OC officials stress importance of social distancing after county sees first death from COVID-19

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Thursday, March 26, 2020
OC officials stress social distancing after first death from COVID-19
With its first death related to COVID-19 and the number of cases rising, Orange County officials urge residents to practice social distancing.

ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- There are now just under 200 cases of the novel coronavirus in Orange County as of Wednesday - that's up 35 cases from Tuesday.

Officials announced the first Orange County death related to the virus, a man in his 70's with underlying health conditions who was receiving treatment at a local hospital.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with this man, his family and love ones," said Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel.

"This serves as a very unfortunate reminder to the community about the importance of staying home and social distancing when leaving the household for essential activities or to work at an essential business," said O.C. Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick.

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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.

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes announced the first jail inmate to test positive for COVID-19. The 40-year-old inmate is one of eight who were tested for the virus.

"This individual was in a dormitory type housing," said Sheriff Don Barnes. "The inmates in that dormitory-type housing are being quarantined under observation."

Officials will start releasing the specific cities where coronavirus cases have been found starting Friday.

Meanwhile, efforts to maintain social distancing ramped up Wednesday, with the closure of all parking lots associated with county beaches, nature preserves and parks.

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"We encourage residents of Orange County to participate and utilize these facilities, but doing so in a safe manner by observing the social distancing protocol," said County Executive Officer Frank Kim.

This will allow health officials to flatten the curve and allow local hospitals to be prepared.

"We don't want our cases going straight up so our hospital system becomes completely overburdened," said David Souleles of Public Health Services. "We want to spread it out over time so that the capacity within our health care system can effectively respond."

Hospitals are already doing their part to prepare by eliminating elective procedures and are doing the majority of their appointments via telephone and video.