A look at Orange County's experience with COVID-19, by the numbers.
Three weeks after the state called for thousands of new motel shelter beds in OC to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Orange County’s shelter capacity apparently has gone in the other direction – down – as the county struggles to quickly get beds online.
Orange County’s property tax collector now says she will not waive late penalties for taxpayers who are impacted financially by COVID-19 pandemic – a position at odds with the state legislature and other counties, which have urged a broad relaxing of property tax deadlines for people financially impacted by the crisis.
Orange County residents have been asked to stay at home for more than two weeks now, here we tell their stories in photos.
Tens of thousands of residents have applied for a host of financial benefits to the Orange County Social Services Agency, which expanded its hours to handle the growing need from thousands who are laid off because of the virus pandemic.
While OC Health Care officials have been scrambling daily for weeks to find more N95 protective facemasks for a variety of first responders, doctors and nurses, in February HCA procurement executives listed as government surplus more than 100,00 of the cloth masks, possibly selling them for as little as $1 a piece.
LATEST OC CASES
EXPOSURE The CDC recommends: wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after being in public or blowing your nose or coughing (or, hand sanitizer with 60%+ alcohol), avoid touching your face with unwashed hands, avoid sick people, stay 6 feet away from other people and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. If you are sick: stay home, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, throw away used tissues and wear a face mask around others.
SYMPTOMS The CDC identifies key symptoms as: Fever, cough and shortness of breath that develop 2-14 days after exposure. If you suspect Coronavirus, CALL your primary medical provider. If you display any EMERGENCY warning signs, seek immediate medical attention: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips or face.
RISK The CDC identifies people most at risk for serious illness: Older adults, and people who have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.
STRESS Stress and anxiety can be triggered by the situation and resources are available to help from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and from the American Psychology Association. Concern over this new virus can make children and families anxious, here are tips on talking with children about COVID-19.
STAYING HOME As of late Thursday March 19, Gov. Gavin Newsom told all Californians to stay home, restricting movement to basics such as gas, groceries and exercise to stem Coronavirus spread and to protect the state’s medical infrastructure. The order supersedes the county's emergency health order which barred gatherings and recommended people stay home. Voice of OC is maintaining a list of arts closures.
SOCIAL DISTANCING Staying home and away from people is called "social distancing." The aim is to SLOW the spread of Coronavirus so as to not overwhelm the nation's health care systems and so that people in need can get help. The Washington Post explains: "The spread (of COVID-19) can be slowed, public health professionals say, if people practice "social distancing" by avoiding public spaces and generally limiting their movement."
BUYING FOOD You can find a few updates on local grocery stores. Grocers say there aren't any serious supply shortages and empty shelves are a result of massive overbuying. They say those shelves will be replenished in time.
EVICTIONS Cities across OC are considering temporary bans on evictions related to Coronavirus. Under the bans, tenants are allowed to fight evictions if they or a family member are infected, or if they’ve been laid off or are forced to leave work due to the virus.
PROPERTY TAXES Property taxes are due April 10. At this time, Orange County's congressional delegation on March 20 called on the county government to delay the taxes for 90 days.
BUSES Starting March 23, all public buses will switch to weekend service hours (from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., compared to weekdays when service is 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.). Some routes begin and end earlier. OC ACCESS continues to operate as usual. While ridership has sharply declined, the agency is disinfecting and sanitizing buses and other public vehicles.
GENERAL FINANCIAL HELP Voice of OC article explains available financial relief resources. Here are some of those:
- • The March 14 executive order removed the mandatory one-week waiting period for unemployment and disability benefits.
- • The Orange County Social Services Agency, despite closing its lobby to the public, is still processing online filings for assistance programs. One program includes emergency cash assistance of up to $200 for immediate needs like rent or medical bills. The Social Service Agency's relief program hotline recently has had an estimated 25 to 30 minute wait time and offers a callback service so residents don’t have to stay on hold. The agency's website encourages people to apply for benefits online.
- • OC residents can also apply over the phone for any of these programs by calling 800-281-9799.
RESTAURANT OWNERS & EMPLOYEES You can find a detailed list of resources available to restaurant owners and employees. The food service industry struggles to maintain business following the most recent announcement to stop all on-site dining, with service only available by delivery, pick-up or drive-thru.
VOLUNTEERING Non-profits and food banks are asking for volunteers to help at-risk communities in the coming weeks. OC Food Bank Coordinator Andre Gaithe told Voice of OC that despite the pandemic they still need volunteers to pack food containers for the 25,000 low income senior citizens they serve on a monthly basis. Second Harvest Food Bank has launched weekly drive through service at the Honda Center, and have suspended their volunteer packing operations at the distribution center.
DONATIONS An Orange County Community Resilience Fund has been started through the OC Community Foundation to raise money for local nonprofits and volunteer organizations.
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