Orange County health officials Friday reported 13 more COVID-19 fatalities to push the death toll to 556, but the number of hospitalizations was down.
The county has reported 64 COVID-19 fatalities since Sunday, after reporting 73 the previous week.
The number of patients being treated for COVID-19 in Orange County hospitals dropped from 690 Thursday to 652, and the number of patients in intensive care units dipped from 233 to 215, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
The HCA logged 710 additional coronavirus infections on Friday, raising the cumulative case total to 33,358 since the pandemic began.
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Of the latest deaths, two were skilled nursing facility residents and two were assisted living facility residents. Of the total death toll, 247 were skilled nursing facility residents and 19 were assisted living facility residents.
The county has administered 384,692 coronavirus tests and documented 18,007 recoveries, the HCA reported.
Orange County is on the state's watch list for counties experiencing high rates of new cases and hospitalizations. It has shown some improvement, but with some continuing concerns.
The county's case rate per 100,000 residents jumped from 220.8 to 233.3, which is far higher than the California Department of Public Health threshold of 25 per 100,000 residents. The rate of residents testing positive for COVID-19 ticked up from 12.6% to 12.7%, higher than the state's desired rate of 8%.
The change in three-day average of hospitalized patients dropped from 1.3% to 0.5%, much lower than the state's threshold of 10%.
The available ICU beds held at 32%, and the percentage of ventilators available remained at 63%. The state's threshold is 20% of ICU beds available to handle a surge and 25% ventilators on hand.
As of Thursday, in the county's jails, 454 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19, with 411 having recovered and 43 in medical isolation being treated for symptoms. The county is awaiting the results of 92 tests.
County officials will tweak their website on COVID-19 soon to provide breakdowns on coronavirus cases for ages of children to help school officials decide if they want to apply for one of the proposed waivers the state may offer some school districts on watch-list counties that are restricted to providing only online classes.
The age groups for children will be broken down from infants to 3 years old, 4-9, 10-12, 13-14, and 15-18, according to HCA Director Clayton Chau.
To receive a waiver, an elementary school district will have to get the teachers union, parents and organizations that provide services to students in the neighborhood to sign off on in-class learning. And then the district will have to make a pitch to get it approved either from county or state officials, which hasn't been decided, officials say.
Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do, vice chairman of the board, has started a campaign to encourage residents to use face coverings. Do's #MaskUpOC campaign will use social media to promote face coverings as a way to stem the spread of coronavirus.
Do was an early adopter of face coverings at a time when public health officials discouraged the use of them because they feared a run on medical masks needed for health professionals. Do promoted the face coverings in April when he authored the county's first mask ordinance, requiring them in pharmacies and food-related businesses.
Since then, vocal opponents of mask use have criticized county officials at board meetings, with some even staging a protest outside the home of then-county health officer Dr. Nichole Quick, who abruptly resigned in response to threats over the issue.
Do said he finds wide compliance in north and central Orange County with the state's requirement for masks indoors at businesses and outdoors when residents cannot safely distance themselves at least six feet from others.
"I think people in South County tend to see the face mask issue as a political one,'' Do said.
Do said health experts have said that face coverings "will be the reality for us for the next two to six months. It's not going to end anytime soon, so this is why it's important to engage in this kind of conversation.''
Dana Point officials on Friday announced a similar effort to promote mask use.
The second round is open to applicants through Friday at www.lacovidfund.org/grants.
Additionally, Garcetti said the city doesn't have to "take a cleaver" to shutting down businesses or other places at this time, as Los Angeles is not seeing the same positive COVID-19 tests as other cities across the nation. There is no imminent plan for more closures, but if there was he would give people notice ahead of them.
The Los Angeles COVID-19 risk indicator remained at "orange" on Wednesday, which means people need to take precautions and minimize contact with others as much as possible.
Throughout the weekend, however, Garcetti told multiple media outlets that Los Angeles was on the brink on going to "red," which would mean hospitals are overburdened and people could not go outside for anything except essential needs.
"We're seeing some good numbers," Garcetti said. "The level of COVID-19 transmission gets better or worse based on what we do as individuals and collectively. So while there's good news, know how fragile this moment remains."
Garcetti said according to county data in March, April and May, deaths at skilled nursing facilities and senior living homes made up 45% of the total deaths related to COVID-19. This month, they account for about 25% of all deaths related to the virus.