First Known Case of Coronavirus UK Variant Reported in Orange County

The San Clemente resident had been in Big Bear, where the new variant had been detected earlier.

A sign displays directions to a COVID-19 mass vaccination site.

A 21-year-old San Clemente man tested positive for the more contagious U.K. strain of COVID-19, marking the first known case in Orange County, local health officials announced Monday.

The man tested positive on Jan. 26 and ``his symptoms have now resolved,'' according to a memo sent Monday to the Board of Supervisors from Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the Orange County Health Care Agency and the county's chief health officer.

The man has ``no history of international travel'' and ``is not part of a larger outbreak,'' Chau wrote. ``We are trying to get his close contacts tested to see if they have evidence of infection.''

The state Department of Public Health informed the Orange County Health Care Agency over the weekend about the case, according to Chau, who said contact tracing indicates the man had recently been to Big Bear, where the strain was detected recently.

Orange County has reported 1,187 new cases of COVID-19 and 46 additional deaths, bringing the county's totals to 238,264 cases and 3,358 fatalities. With Sunday's update, the number of coronavirus patients in county hospitals continued its downward trend, declining from 1,164 Saturday to 1,093, and the number of patients in intensive care decreased from 347 to 335, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

OC's test positivity rate was 10.9% and its adjusted case rate per 100,000 population was at 39.

The county's state-adjusted ICU bed availability remains at zero, and the unadjusted figure rose from 9.6% Saturday to 10.4%. The state created the adjusted metric to reflect the difference in beds available for COVID-19 patients and non-coronavirus patients. The county has 58% of its ventilators available.

The OCHCA also reported 14,423 tests Sunday, bringing the total to 2,781,473. There have been 198,368 documented recoveries.

Despite the positive trends with case and positivity rates, Orange County CEO Frank Kim said Friday he was nervous about Super Bowl Sunday leading to another spike.

“I’m worried about the Super Bowl,'' Kim said. ``The concern is that the governor has lifted the stay-at-home order and there's a general sense of euphoria seeing older relatives and family members getting vaccines, so there's a sense of safety we haven't felt in a long time.''

Kim said some younger adults might let their guard down and ``go out and interact in unsafe ways during Super Bowl weekend, and I would hate to see us have a spike.''

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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