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Regional ICU capacity shrinks to 9% as Orange County reports highest single-day coronavirus totals yet

Patients check-in at a Clinic 360 COVID-19 mobile testing site in Fountain Valley on Dec. 8.
Dozens of patients wait in line to check-in at a 360 Clinic COVID-19 mobile testing site at Fountain Valley Sports Park on Tuesday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

With the potential coronavirus fallout from the Thanksgiving holiday still to be fully realized, Orange County virus trends are on a troubling course as health officials on Wednesday reported a record-high number of new infections and COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Orange County Health Care Agency officials recorded 2,613 new cases — the highest single-day total recorded in the county so far during the pandemic — bringing the cumulative total of coronavirus infections to 93,126 cases. With no new deaths reported, fatalities remain at 1,633.

Area hospitals on Wednesday reported 974 residents were being treated for COVID-19, with 239 in intensive care units.

That burden is impacting the availability of ICU beds, a key metric in determining how long Orange County will have to follow stay-at-home orders issued by the state on Saturday. Only 11.2% of countywide beds were still open as of Wednesday, compared to 13% the day before and 18% Monday.

County officials say the state’s stay-at-home order for Southern California counties is too overreaching and provides little evidence a shutdown will effectively curb soaring coronavirus cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Health Care Agency Director and Public Health Officer Dr. Clayton Chau explained in a meeting of the Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that the county is one of 11 included in a Southern California region whose combined ICU availability must be 15% or higher for lockdown orders to be lifted.

“Once we’re in the lockdown, we stay in the lockdown for three weeks,” he said. “At the end of week three, the state will look at the ICU capacity projected out four weeks. If the region is 15% or above, the entire region would be off the lockdown.”

The California Department of Public Health on Wednesday placed the Southern California region’s ICU capacity at 9%.

The adjusted seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 residents now stands at 30.3 — the highest on record so far — while the county’s seven-day average testing positivity rate has reached 10.6% with 15,592 tests reported by agency officials.

The latest maps and charts on the spread of COVID-19 in Orange County, including cases, deaths, closures and restrictions.

Here are the latest cumulative coronavirus case counts and COVID-19 deaths for select cities in Orange County:

  • Santa Ana: 17,998 cases; 338 deaths
  • Anaheim: 15,695 cases; 353 deaths
  • Huntington Beach: 3,875 cases; 92 deaths
  • Costa Mesa: 3,130 cases; 47 deaths
  • Irvine: 3,343 cases; 16 deaths
  • Newport Beach: 1,645 cases; 26 deaths
  • Fountain Valley: 1,107 cases; 21 deaths
  • Laguna Beach: 366 cases; fewer than five deaths

Here are the case counts by age group, followed by deaths:

  • 0 to 17: 8,055 cases; one death
  • 18 to 24: 13,518 cases; four deaths
  • 25 to 34: 19,658 cases; 23 deaths
  • 35 to 44: 14,719 cases; 41 deaths
  • 45 to 54: 15,095 cases; 124 deaths
  • 55 to 64: 11,259 cases; 229 deaths
  • 65 to 74: 5,686 cases; 321 deaths
  • 75 to 84: 2,936 cases; 356 deaths
  • 85 and older: 2,139 cases; 534 deaths

Updated figures are posted daily at occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc. For information on getting tested, visit occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-testing.

As the pandemic economy continues to claim new victims, the Community Action Partnership in Orange County is providing utility and rental assistance, food and other needed support services to the poor and homeless.

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