Orange County Virtual Town Hall Addresses COVID-19 Concerns

March 13, 2020 Updated: March 13, 2020
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ORANGE, Calif.—The City of Orange held a virtual town hall on March 12 with the Orange County Health Care Agency amid concerns about a potential new coronavirus outbreak in the county.

City officials opened a hotline for locals to call in and ask questions. Currently, Orange has confirmed six total cases of the respiratory virus, with five being travel-related.

“We will pursue opportunities for federal and state funding,” said Vice Chairman Andrew Do. “And most important of all, we will prioritize our resources to help our most vulnerable population, such as our elderly residents, homeless individuals, and those with chronic health issues.”

Schools Staying Open

In Orange County, all non-essential city gatherings have been canceled, but schools remain in session.

“The recommendations clearly stated in there that does not apply to school classroom activities,” said Orange County Health Officer, Dr. Nichole Quick. “The California Department of Public Health has issued separate guidance to schools. So at this time, that guidance does not call for school closures in Orange County.”

There are currently no cases of teachers or students in Orange’s school districts affected.

“For parents of children who may be at increased risk of infection, what I would say … [talk] to your private physician about that risk assessment,” Quick said.

“But I want to reiterate that schools in Orange County have been given guidance from the state and are adhering to that guidance and at this time we do not have an indication to close schools in Orange County.”

Testing

Quick also explained it is possible to contract both the virus and the flu at the same time, and people can receive testing for both. Testing for the virus is currently done in the county’s public health lab.

“The way testing is done right now in Orange County is our local public health lab is able to test samples from individuals that fall into some priority categories,” said Quick.

“Other individuals can go to their private physician and request testing and that can be done through a commercial lab. So for any individual that is concerned about their health, they should contact their provider.”

According to Do, the county will be asking state and federal officials for additional test kits, and to allocate local jurisdiction resources for faster processing. The county also wants “to support private companies including Quest Diagnostics, and LabCorp in the development and implementation of additional test kits,” Do said.

Orange County officials reiterated they are following the state guidelines and working closely with federal officials to ensure accurate and consistent information is being shared down to the local level.