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OC Health Care Agency updates COVID-19 information

The OC Health Care Agency (HCA) has confirmed a COVID-related pediatric death in Orange County. In December, a child under the age of 5 died of complications related to COVID-19 infection.

“We have lost another precious young life to this terrible virus; it is our third pediatric death in Orange County since the start of the pandemic,” said Dr. Clayton Chau, HCA Director and County Health Officer. “This is yet another somber reminder that we must continue to do everything we can to protect our loved ones, especially our little ones under 5 years of age who are not able to be vaccinated.”

Between December 30 and January 5, the seven-day average COVID-19 case rate in Orange County jumped from 25.5 to 67.5 per 100,000 people and the average number of daily COVID-19 cases rose from 822 to 2,179. The positivity rate also increased from 6.5 to 16.2 percent, hospitalizations from 453 to 673, and ICU admissions from 89 to 114 per day. The majority of people who are hospitalized due to COVID-19 continue to be among those who are unvaccinated, at 87%.

“COVID-19 has been spreading very quickly. Cases are reaching levels that we haven’t seen throughout this pandemic,” says Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, Deputy County Health Officer. “We strongly urge our county residents and visitors to please take all preventative measures to reduce your risk of getting sick or hospitalized. Even though breakthrough infections are possible, the most important thing you can do is get vaccinated and boosted to maximize your immunity to COVID-19 and reduce your chance of getting severely infected.”

In addition to getting vaccinated, Orange County residents and visitors are encouraged to take these preventative measures against COVID-19:

Get tested 24 hours before and 3-5 days after gathering or traveling:

  • Self-collection, at-home COVID-19 Test Kits are available at no cost to people who work or live in Orange County, and can be ordered online at ochealthinfo.com/covidtest.
  • An email address is required for each individual requesting a test kit.
  • Each kit comes with a prepaid shipping return label and results are provided within 24-48 hours upon receipt of the specimen.

People without symptoms, or who have mild symptoms and are at low risk of severe disease, should not go to the hospital or emergency room to obtain screening testing. Hospitals are focused on people who are sick and need urgent care.

Rapid tests are currently in short supply nationwide; people who are in need of quicker test results are encouraged to check with their healthcare provider or local retail pharmacy for availability of rapid tests.

California mask mandate extended to February 15:

  • According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), universal masking indoors is now required through February 15, 2022 to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • For full guidance on effective masks as well as guidance for improved fit and protection, click here.
  • For additional frequently asked questions about the State’s universal masking mandate, click here.

Follow COVID-19 safety precautions:

  • Limit or avoid large gatherings, especially indoors
  • Keep a safe distance from others who may be unvaccinated
  • Wash and sanitize your hands often and thoroughly
  • Ensure good ventilation by keeping doors and windows open
  • Regularly self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and
  • Stay home if you are sick

Revised Cal/OSHA ETS and County Health Orders

Cal/OSHA has issued revised Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) that will go into effect on January 14, 2022. The ETS requires employers to develop a written COVID-19 Prevention Program to address health hazards and unsafe conditions due to COVID-19. Important revisions include requirements on COVID-19 case investigations in the workplace, face coverings, testing and exclusion, and return to work. For more information, click here.

The County of Orange Health Officer’s Orders and Strong Recommendations have been updated to align with recent quarantine and isolation guidelines issued by the CDC and CDPH. For the latest County Health Order, click here.

Recommendations for Pfizer Booster and Additional Primary Doses

On January 4 and January 5, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the following recommendations for the Comirnaty (Pfizer) COVID-19 vaccine to be administered:

  • As a booster dose in individuals ages 12-17
  • As a booster dose 5 months after primary vaccination, for individuals age 12 and older
  • As a third additional primary dose for moderately or severely immunocompromised children ages 5-11, 28 days after their second dose

The recommendations apply only to the Pfizer vaccine, not to the Moderna or Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines.

Vaccines continue to be widely available throughout Orange County for walk-in, same day and future appointments. Individuals who are not yet vaccinated or boosted against COVID-19, or are eligible for a third dose (due to immunocompromise conditions) are encouraged to visit a local pharmacy or healthcare provider, or go online to Vaccines.gov, MyTurn.ca.gov or Othena.com, to schedule a vaccination appointment.

For more information on COVID-19 information and resources, including case counts, vaccination and testing in Orange County, visit ochealthinfo.com/covid.

This article was released by the OC Health Care Agency.