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Stay-at-home orders will stay in place as Southern California’s ICU capacity remains fixed at 0%

UC Irvine Medical Center on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020.
With Southern California hospital intensive care units continuing to report 0% capacity for COVID-19 patients, state officials said Tuesday stay-at-home orders issued earlier this month will remain in effect.
(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

A regional stay-at-home order restricting the operations of Orange County residents and businesses, originally set to expire Dec. 28, will remain in place for the foreseeable future, as ICU bed capacity for COVID-19 patients across Southern California remains at 0%.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly explained the aggregated ICU capacity of hospitals throughout the Southern California region, which includes Orange County and 10 other jurisdictions, would have to reach 15% for the order to be lifted.

Both the Southern California and San Joaquin regions were placed under stay-at-home orders earlier this month for an initial three-week period, but their intensive care capacities have only shrunk since then. Ghaly said recently calculated four-week projections don’t show things changing anytime soon.

“We essentially are projecting that the ICU capacity is not improving in San Joaquin or Southern California and that demand will continue to exceed capacity,” he said in a news conference. “So, they will remain under the order for the time being.”

Ghaly said the state is asking acute-care facilities to create crisis continuum of care plans that would outline how COVID-19 patients would be triaged if hospitals became too full or under-resourced to provide equal and adequate care to all.

“We do have to acknowledge that we need to be prepared for the possibility that some hospitals will need to resort to crisis care, in which medical professionals have to make hard choices and allocate resources differently,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Orange County, already overburdened hospitals continue to report increasing numbers of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and requiring intensive care. Between Friday and Sunday, health officials reported 9,153 new coronavirus cases with 41 resident deaths recorded Friday, Christmas Day, and another 22 deaths Saturday.

The Orange County Health Care Agency on Tuesday reported 2,106 individuals were being treated in area hospitals with 473 in intensive care units.

Another 2,452 new cases of coronavirus and one death were also logged on Tuesday, bringing the countywide cumulative case count to 152,059 and pushing the fatality rate to 1,847.

The county’s seven-day average of new cases stands at 53.5 per 100,000 residents. Another 14,038 tests were issued Tuesday, bringing the cumulative number of tests issued to 2,010,289 and accounting for a seven-day average testing positivity rate of 16.9%.

Ghaly urged residents to take all precautions to prevent the spread of the virus as another wave, following winter holidays known to attract gatherings, is anticipated in the weeks ahead.

“We could see the worst of it in early January,” he said. “Frankly, many of the hospital leaders I’ve talked to in Southern California are bracing for exactly that.”

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

  • Santa Ana: 29,002 cases; 369 deaths
  • Anaheim: 25,876 cases; 395 deaths
  • Huntington Beach: 6,049 cases; 99 deaths
  • Costa Mesa: 4,948 cases; 53 deaths
  • Irvine: 5,523 cases; 22 deaths
  • Newport Beach: 2,225 cases; 28 deaths
  • Fountain Valley: 1,912 cases; 30 deaths
  • Laguna Beach: 493 cases; fewer than five deaths

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

  • 0 to 17: 14,476 cases; one death
  • 18 to 24: 21,384 cases; five deaths
  • 25 to 34: 31,438 cases; 26 deaths
  • 35 to 44: 23,996 cases; 43 deaths
  • 45 to 54: 24,551 cases; 139 deaths
  • 55 to 64: 18,775 cases; 250 deaths
  • 65 to 74: 9,402 cases; 362 deaths
  • 75 to 84: 4,688 cases; 409 deaths
  • 85 and older: 3,259 cases; 612 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.

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