Orange County sees first COVID-19 death as cases climb to 152, jail inmate tests positive

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Health officials say Orange County has seen its first death related to the coronavirus as the number of cases in the area continue to rise.

The person who died was a man in his 70s who had underlying health conditions. He had been receiving treatment at a local hospital. His city of residence was not disclosed.

"We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the patient's family and friends," said county health officer Dr. Nichole Quick. "This serves as a very unfortunate reminder to the community about the importance of staying at home and social distancing when leaving the household for essential activities, or to work at an essential business, in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our most vulnerable neighbors."

Among the new cases was an inmate at Orange County Jail who tested positive for COVID-19, according to a news release from the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Officials said the inmate, a man in his 40s, was booked into the Orange County Jail on June 17, 2018 on suspicion of child endangerment, torture, false imprisonment and assault with a deadly weapon.

The inmate was recently isolated for flu-like symptoms and tested for COVID-19. The positive test results were returned on Tuesday.

Officials said the inmate remains in isolation, is receiving medical treatment with moderate symptoms, and currently does not need to hospitalized.

The jail has an electronic card system in the facility that will allow the department to identify all inmates and staff who had contact with the inmate in order to notify them of the potential exposure, according to the news release.

Inmates who were potentially exposed will be closely monitored for symptoms. Their movement inside the jail will be restricted for up to 14 days.

Orange County now has seen 152 cases of the virus. Of those cases, the majority of them, 87, are between ages 18 to 49. About a third of the county's cases were related to travel.
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Some Orange County cities are grappling with complaints about social distancing after seeing large crowds at beaches over the weekend.

The county has tested more than 2,100 residents.

Meanwhile, Quest Diagnostics announced its San Juan Capistrano infectious disease lab is now one of three across the nation performing two different COVID-19 tests, expanding the company's capacity to 25,000 tests per day. They expect to further expand it to 30,000 tests by the end of the week.

The Board of Supervisors also urged county health officials to be even more specific with the data related to cases.
"How many people are recovered and how many people are in the hospital, so we try to be transparent as much as we can," said Board Chairwoman Michelle Steel.

The supervisors met for nearly three hours Tuesday morning to discuss their response, including an urgent need to close all beach parking lots countywide.

"I want the County of Orange to be proactive. We think the surge is coming relative to COVID-19 and I think we need to be prepared," Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said.

In Santa Ana, the County announced a new cold weather shelter for the homeless, as the National Guard prepares to help with the COVID-19 medical response and moves into the armories this week. It was a quick process. Friday is when they got the order from the National Guard to vacate the armory. On Sunday, the Salvation Army moved out of the facility and from then till now, they transformed it into a temporary shelter with 100 beds.
"We are all working together right now so we are moving these people, vulnerable people that we are not spreading this coronavirus," said Steel.

In Fullerton, St.Jude Medical Center set up a drive-up donation center for supplies to help them beef up for what could come in the near future. They're accepting everything from masks and gowns to wipes and Clorox to sanitize.

"Locally, we have not seen the surge of COVID-19 patients, but we are preparing for this, seeing what we're seeing throughout the rest of the nation," said Dr. Jae Kim.

Orange County has established health resources for residents, including the OC Health Care Agency's Health Referral Line at (800) 564-8448 and online here.

Non-medical questions can be directed to the county Public Information Hotline at (714) 628-7085.

Worldwide there have been more than 417,000 cases of the novel coronavirus since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China late last year, according to data maintained by Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 18,600 deaths.

The United States has seen more than 53,000 cases, with at least 780 deaths.
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