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With state’s stay-at-home order lifted, some in Orange County can get back to business

Diners at Las Brisas in Laguna Beach enjoy lunch outside Monday.
Diners at Las Brisas in Laguna Beach enjoy lunch outside Monday, shortly after officials announced a regional stay-at-home order would be lifted and Orange County would return to the “purple” reopening tier.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Noting California is “turning a critical corner” in its battle against the coronavirus as regional ICU capacities recover from recent critical levels, state health officials on Monday lifted a stay-at-home order for Southern California, including Orange County.

In effect since Dec. 7, the order restricted business operations, limiting customer capacity and forcing partial or full business closures in some sectors, including restaurants and personal care services.

A statewide curfew that asked residents to limit their movements between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. to further halt the spread of the virus has also been lifted as of Monday.

“We’re seeing a flattening of the curve — everything that should be up is up, and everything that should be down is down,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a news conference Monday. “All regions, effective immediately, are no longer [under] the stay-at-home order and will move back into ‘the blueprint.’”

Counties will now fall back into one of four color-coded tiers identified in the state’s “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” which imposes certain levels of restrictions based on a county’s new infection rates, COVID-19 hospitalizations and testing positivity.

Orange County will operate in the most-restrictive “purple” reopening tier, which means restaurants may resume outdoor dining, while barbers, nail and hair salons can reopen in a limited capacity.

The move was triggered by a change in the state’s four-week projections of ICU capacity, which increased across all five regions statewide, Newsom confirmed Monday.

California’s 14-day average testing positivity rate fell from 13.6% two weeks earlier to 9.4% on Sunday. COVID-19 hospitalization rates also fell by 19.8% since Jan. 11, while health officials saw a 9.5% decrease in the rate of COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care, according to reports.

In Southern California, a region comprising Orange County and 10 other jurisdictions, the aggregated ICU capacity anticipated by Feb. 21 jumped to 33.3% — far above the 15% capacity necessary for stay-at-home orders to be lifted.

Appointment holders seek COVID-19 vaccinations at Soka University in Aliso Viejo on Saturday.
Appointment holders seek COVID-19 vaccinations at Soka University in Aliso Viejo on Saturday. Soka University is being used as Orange County’s second regional COVID-19 vaccine Super POD site.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“Californians heard the urgent message to stay home as much as possible and accepted that challenge to slow the surge and save lives,” Dr. Tomás Aragón, state public health officer and director of the California Department of Public Health, said in a statement.

“COVID-19 is still here and still deadly, so our work is not over, but it’s important to recognize our collective actions saved lives and we are turning a critical corner,” he continued.

Orange County health officials on Monday recorded 1,330 new cases of coronavirus and 66 deaths, bringing the countywide case count to 224,618 and pushing the fatality rate to 2,704.

Area hospitals reported treating 1,703 residents for COVID-19, 26% of whom — or 447 individuals — were being cared for in intensive care units, the agency reported.

The county’s seven-day average of new cases stands at 67.1 per 100,000 residents. Another 13,770 tests were reported on Monday, bringing the cumulative number to 2,574,018 and accounting for a seven-day average testing positivity rate of 16.7%.

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

  • Santa Ana: 40,772 cases; 493 deaths
  • Anaheim: 37,678 cases; 526 deaths
  • Huntington Beach: 9,156 cases; 131 deaths
  • Costa Mesa: 7,839 cases; 74 deaths
  • Irvine: 8,892 cases; 41 deaths
  • Newport Beach: 3,180 cases; 44 deaths
  • Fountain Valley: 3,010 cases; 41 deaths
  • Laguna Beach: 705 cases; fewer than five deaths

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

  • 0 to 17: 22,688 cases; one death
  • 18 to 24: 31,256 cases; five deaths
  • 25 to 34: 45,359 cases; 32 deaths
  • 35 to 44: 35,267 cases; 56 deaths
  • 45 to 54: 36,162 cases; 185 deaths
  • 55 to 64: 28,072 cases; 357 deaths
  • 65 to 74: 13,950 cases; 519 deaths
  • 75 to 84: 6,981 cases; 617 deaths
  • 85 and older: 4,736 cases; 932 deaths

Updated figures are posted daily at occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc. Information on the COVID-19 vaccine in Orange County can be found at https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-vaccine-resources.

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