Local News

COVID-19 Surge Could Push County Back to Most Restrictive Tier

Nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Orange County’s cumulative case count is 64,058, with 1,522 recorded deaths. The number of new cases reported in the County during the first part of November is approaching a high mark not seen since July, when summer celebrations helped to cause a serious spike in infections. Officials who once hoped to see Orange County transition from the Red “Substantial” Tier of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy to the Orange “Moderate” Tier instead now hope we don’t slip back into the Purple “Widespread” Tier, as has every county geographically surrounding OC. As the nation experiences an alarming rise in coronavirus infections, California recently became the second state, following Texas, to pass the 1 million mark of cumulative cases. The holiday season has health officials worried that the rise in COVID-19 cases will be exacerbated by transmissions from ill-advised family gatherings just when the annual flu season begins to hit its stride.

The County has experienced an increase in reported cases not yet reflected in the County metrics that determine whether or not OC will remain in the Red Tier or slip back into the Purple Tier. The difference would be restricting retail stores (except for grocery and other essential businesses) to 25% capacity instead of the current Red Tier 50%. Museums would also need to close again, instead of operating with limited capacity. Houses of worship, bars and restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, and other indoor venues currently operating with very limited capacity would need to close again entirely.

Orange County’s overall Test Positivity Rate is 3.3%, while its Case Rate per 100,000 residents is 5.6%, but, as noted above, these figures do not yet fully reflect the increased number of daily cases recently reported. Normally the Orange County Health Care Agency holds a press conference on Wednesdays or Thursdays to take questions from reporters, often with the agency’s director Dr. Clayton Chau present. However, the HCA abruptly canceled a Nov. 12 press conference just two hours ahead of its start time, and did not schedule another one that week.

Of great concern is the availability of hospital beds to accommodate patients, particularly intensive Care Units (ICU) beds for the most serious cases. 244 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, including 95 in ICU beds. Locally, St. Jude Medical Center has 26 total ICU beds, but will not comment on how many are occupied at any given time, let alone how many might be in use for COVID-19 patients. St. Jude’s public relations officer acknowledged that “It has been widely predicted that Orange County may see a surge in COVID-19 cases,” but noted that an increase in case numbers would not necessarily result in increased hospitalizations. Since the pandemic’s first wave, hospitalizations and deaths have been lower relative to the number of known cases as health professionals learn more about how to care for COVID-19 patients. Still, an unprecedented wave of infections has the potential to overwhelm OC hospitals, as it has in other regions across the country.

Fullerton currently has around 222 active known cases of COVID-19. The City has recorded 3,110 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. 106 Fullerton residents have died from COVID-19, so far. The City’s Average New Cases per Day for every 100,000 residents is 8.6, higher than the Orange County average of 5.6.

According to the County’s COVID-19 Dashboard website, test positivity rates and case rates per 100,000 residents in Fullerton’s four different ZIP codes have either increased or decreased, sometimes dramatically, since the beginning of November. There is a 7-day lag time between reported case rates and the calculated average daily rate eventually assigned.

•92831 The Test Positivity rate decreased from 4.9% to 3.9% while the Case Rates per 100,000 residents decreased from 8.8 to 8.4.

•92832 The Test Positivity rate increased from 3.4% from 6.1% while the Case Rates per 100,000 residents increased from 4.5 to 10.2.

•92833 The Test Positivity rate increased from 4.5% to 5.6% while the Case Rates per 100,000 residents increased from 4.9 to 7.7.

•92835 The Test Positivity rate decreased from 3.7% to 1.6% while the Case Rates per 100,000 residents decreased from 6.6 to 3.3.

Health professionals and many government leaders at all levels continue to press the public to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing—including avoiding mixing households—as the most effective ways to avoid spreading the coronavirus. California’s mask mandate is still in effect statewide, but other states without such mandates have left the decision to municipalities, some of which adopt mask wearing rules, while others do not, often based on political stances rather than the scientific efficacy of the practice, widely considered essential to curtailing the pandemic’s spread. President Elect Joe Biden supports some form of a nationwide mask order, while the Trump administration has never implemented one.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, along with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, issued a travel advisory on Nov. 13 recommending 14-day quarantines for anyone traveling between states and internationally. The three state governors instead recommended that residents of their respective states avoid travel altogether unless it is essential, for example, “work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care and safety and security.”

Both State and local authorities are urging residents to avoid traveling for the holidays, and instead celebrate Thanksgiving at home to prevent spreading the coronavirus beyond immediate households.

Locally, The Boys and Girls Club of Fullerton will be the site of a free mask giveaway on Friday, November 20 from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm at the Fullerton Community Center, 340 W. Commonwealth Ave. Drive-through Distribution will be available. No registration is required. Masks will be given out while supplies last.

1 reply »

  1. worst researched article ever. You should find a new job. Hope you studied more in school because your so called journalism sucks. Can you possibly use a more narrow data pull to try and make your senseless point? Why did you not do a natural correlation to the increase in number of testings to positive cases. Furthermore, draw attention to the positive cases do not account for false positives inaccurately inflating the real numbers. Lastly, point out that the survival rate is 99.99% and climbing. Oh wait…. cause that doesn’t fit your fear mongering narrative. Really poor article and lack of professionalism. Don’t worry, us major league investors in media outlets will not be calling on you..