Orange County COVID-19 Numbers Remain Stable

June 21, 2021 Updated: June 21, 2021

SANTA ANA—Coronavirus hospitalization rates remained stable June 21 in Orange County, Calif., which reported 112 new COVID-19 infections over the past weekend.

According to data released by the Orange County Health Care Agency, which has ceased reporting statistics on the weekends, hospitalizations remained at 54 on June 21, the same level as June 18, while the number of patients in intensive care decreased from 17 to 14.

The county logged four more fatalities.

The death toll for June is four; 21 in May; 41 in April; 198 in March; 608 in February; 1554 in January, the deadliest month of the pandemic; and 966 in December, the next deadliest.

The latest confirmed infections brought the county’s cumulative caseload to 255,922.

“It’s kind of odd—we worked so hard to get to the yellow tier and it goes away,” Supervisor Doug Chaffee said June 18. “But our numbers are good.”

Chaffee noted it will be interesting to see the impact on the county’s infection rates as large venues such as Disneyland and the Los Angeles Angels allow full-capacity crowds.

“We’ve got a good half of the county vaccinated or at least with one shot,” Chaffee said.

As of June 16, there were 1,676,071 fully vaccinated Orange County residents, which is roughly half of the population. Chaffee said about 85 percent of the county’s senior citizens have been vaccinated.

The case rate in the county as of the middle of last week was 0.9 per 100,000 residents, and the overall positivity rate was 0.6 percent, according to Orange County chief executive Frank Kim.

“Since the middle of May, the case rate has been 1.3 to 0.7, so it goes up or down one-tenth of a point day-to-day—that’s pretty consistent,” Kim told City News Service. “Hopefully, we don’t see a spike with the reopenings.”

County officials have been keeping an eye on Cal-OSHA and its workplace rules governing mask requirements among employees, Kim said. The state agency on June 17 adopted a plan that generally allows vaccinated workers to skip wearing a mask but require that a face covering be worn by the unvaccinated.

Kim met for about an hour June 16 with department heads to go over the workplace rules and how to head off any harassment based on face coverings.

“It’s important to note that if any employees, because of their own situation, may continue wearing a mask we need to protect those employees from harassment,” he said. “Some people will want to be more cautious.”

Andrew Noymer, a University of California–Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, said Cal-OSHA could do a better job of explaining what it intends to do. But from an epidemiological perspective, he said, “it doesn’t matter what people do [about masking] over the summer because the transmission is so low. What will matter is when the fall comes or when the Delta variant really takes off, whichever comes first and then all of a sudden it really matters
again.”

Orange County Superior Court Presiding Judge Erick L. Larsh issued an order on June 18 relaxing some restrictions at the county’s courthouses, which have been closed to the public except for employees and residents with civil or criminal matters pending.

According to the order, which went into effect June 21, vaccinated visitors or employees do not have to wear a mask, but unvaccinated people will have to continue wearing a face covering. Court officials will not do anything to check anyone’s vaccination status, instead relying on the honor system.

Court officials are also going to phase in more services available as they let the general public return to the courthouses. The YouTube channels that provide a virtual peek into the courtrooms will be phased out over time, but not right away.

While most of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions were lifted June 15, Gov. Gavin Newsom nonetheless warned the virus is still active—and that mask-wearing will continue to be a reality for non- vaccinated residents, at businesses that opt to require them and for people who simply feel safer wearing them.