The incidence of coronavirus cases increased throughout Orange County during the second wave, including in some parts of South County that did not see a dramatic increase in cases or positivity during the first wave.
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“Unfortunately, the entire Orange County is currently covered by COVID,” said Dr. Curtis Condon, head of research at the County Health Agency.
During Tuesday’s virtual panel hosted by County Governor Doug Chaffy and Anaheim City Councilor Jose Moreno, Condon said postal codes up and down the county were seeing rising levels of positivity.
“Almost every zip code in Orange County and many in southern Orange County is Level 1 – with a positivity rate of over 8%,” Condon said, referring to the four-tier system of state-owned businesses.
Laguna Niguel, Ranche Ladera, Dana Point and parts of San Clemente have over 7% positivity, while the southern part of San Clemente has a 10% positivity.
Orange County is sitting in the Purple Tier or Tier 1 of the state’s rebuilding system due to rising case rates. This means that there are no indoor restaurants, gyms, places of worship and cinemas, while further restricting indoor work for retailers.
All of Southern California counties have been placed in the most restrictive purple order, as cases in the region began to rise sharply last month.
As of Wednesday, the positivity rate across the country is 8.8%.
An additional 1,208 cases were reported on Wednesday.
Public health officials estimate that approximately 12 to 13% of new cases will end up in hospitals two to three weeks on the road.
The incidence of OC and hospitalizations has been declining since the first wave, in which more than 700 people were hospitalized at one point in July.
These trends began to reverse in late October.
As of Wednesday, 689 people had been hospitalized, including 171 in intensive care units, according to the county. Health Agency.
“Things were getting better in early September,” Condon said. “Then, with the onset of the fall months … we see that positivity is growing systematically in these zip codes.”
While the percentage of cases is increasing in South County, working-class neighborhoods in North and Central counties have been shattered by the virus. Some levels of positivity reach 14%.
But this time there is help that is readily available to many residents, as County Health Agency Director and District Health Officer Dr. Clayton Chow has partnered with a number of non-profit community groups to bring education and targeted resources to the most severely affected neighborhoods.
The collaboration began in June with Latino Health Access, a non-profit organization based in Santa Ana.
“The difference between July and November is that we are better prepared,” Latino Health Access America CEO Bracho told a panel on Tuesday.
“So that’s a huge difference. People in the community are also aware of the services. They are very independent and informed in their behavior, “she said.
Braco said Latino Health Access employees work almost around the clock to help track contacts.
“Imagine the amount of work we have with overstrain in cases. Our staff works very late at night, “she said. “I really need to move at the speed of the virus.”
She said tracking contacts should move as fast as possible so that people know they have tested positive and isolate themselves to prevent further spread of the virus.
Bracho also shared data from researchers at UC Irvine, which show that the first wave began in richer coastal communities and slowly began to spread to working-class communities in the UK, having a major impact on neighborhoods in the summer.
Now the degree of positivity is increasing everywhere.
Since the pandemic began in March, the virus has killed 1,578 people in the county out of 80,551 confirmed cases.
The virus has already killed nearly three times more people in Orange County than the flu, on average each year.
In context, Orange County has averaged about 20,000 deaths per year since 2016, including 543 annual flu deaths, according to public health data.
According to these state death statistics, cancer kills more than 4,600 people, heart disease kills more than 2,800, more than 1,400 die of Alzheimer’s disease, and strokes kill more than 1,300 people.
Chow said local public health officials could not pinpoint the exact source of the virus’s rapid transmission.
“In Orange County, we looked at each business sector again. And the number one conclusion we’ve made … is that people are coming together, “Chow said.
Public health officials have said the same.
But public health experts say differently, especially as cases increase rapidly and so do efforts to track contacts.
“The answer is that no one knows for sure. We just know it’s happening. “Personally, I don’t think we can rule out restaurants – there’s not much evidence that these are just people gathering in other people’s homes,” UC Irvine epidemiologist and public health expert Andrew Neumer said in a telephone interview Friday.
Neumer said the current backlog of cases has made efforts to track the county’s health agency’s contacts largely ineffective.
He also said that some business interests embrace the idea that the collection of private households is the main driving force behind the increase in the case.
“I think the idea that these were mostly small gatherings was offered in good faith, but it was really embraced by those who have the skin in the game of businesses that take care of gathering people,” Neumer said.
He also said that some outdoor eateries are just as bad as indoor dinners.
“Some of these so-called outdoor arrangements, which are actually just people packed like sardines in tents, don’t impress me,” Neumer said.
Meanwhile, Neumer, Chow, and public health officials are concerned about the potential impact of the Thanksgiving virus, as many people traditionally have large dinners with extended families.
UC Irvine Public Health Dean Bernadette Boden-Albala said the virus is so widespread in the community that various activities are contributing to its increased spread, such as restaurants, crowded malls and private gatherings.
“I am very, very picky about the settings of the internal shopping center,” Boden Albala said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “Try to find places where you know they limit the number of people who come in. Try to find a time when other people aren’t there.”
Researchers have found that the virus spreads more quickly indoors because it is transmitted to aerosol particles that are carried in the air when people breathe and talk, which is why infectious disease specialists and doctors encourage people to wear masks and avoid overcrowded internal conditions.
“Spend the least time there. “It’s not the time to shop in storefronts – you really want to limit your indoor exposure,” Boden-Albala said.
Public health experts such as Boden-Albala and Neumer suggest that residents shop only for basic needs and stay away from people who are not from the same household. Outdoor activities, such as jogging or hiking, are good if not crowded, experts say.
With vaccines on the horizon, Boden-Albala said residents still need to follow public health protocols to avoid unnecessary deaths.
“I think people are tired, looking for normalcy and trying to justify all their actions,” she said. “We just have to hold out a little longer.”
Here is the latest data on the number of viruses in Orange County from the county data:
Infections Hospitalizations and deaths City – by – city data Demographics
Spencer Custodio is a reporter for Voice of OC. You can contact him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio