Stay Home Order extended; 1,582 new COVID-19 cases reported Dec. 31

 01 01 21 THIS COVID CHART copyBy Austin Widger, Ojai Valley News reporter

The state’s Stay Home Order, first issued in early December, has been extended for at least another three weeks due to zero percent availability of intensive care unit beds in both Ventura County and the Southern California region.

This is a state calculation based on the number of staffed beds available and the high percentage of COVID-19 patients in ICUs. All COVID-19 patients who present in the Ojai Valley Community Hospital emergency room are being taken to Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, according to hospital officials.

Also, the last day of 2020 brought a record 1,582 new COVID-19 cases, above the 403 reported the day before. This brought the total number of cases ever reported in Ventura County to 39,559. Out of the nearly 40,000 all-time cases, 433 were in Ojai and 160 in Oak View.

 The Stay Home Order closes or limits many businesses and activities, and prohibits private gatherings.

As of Dec. 31, there were 374 patients in Ventura County hospitals due to COVID-19, 66 of them in intensive care units. 

Three more deaths were reported, bringing the total number of deaths of Ventura County residents who have died with COVID-19 to 263. Twelve of the deaths were in Ojai and three in Oak View.

Ventura County Public Health Officer Robert Levin said at the weekly county government press conference on COVID-19 on Dec. 30: “I thought we were too involved, too observant” for a second surge, but that was not the case since the numbers show “not enough people have taken precautions not to catch or spread the virus.”

He continued: “When this pandemic began and it was predicted that we would have between 250 and 1,000 deaths in our county, I thought to myself, ‘We’re never going to have 250 deaths.’ The reason was, I knew that we would take the steps, the actions, practice the personal responsibility that would keep us from getting there. … I was thinking maybe we’d have between 50 and 100 deaths. We are at 260 deaths. Frankly, we didn’t need to be here. This is the highest month ever that we’ve had, with 56 deaths alone in December.”

Levin said the county has yet to find out the impact of people gathering over the Christmas holiday.  “We have not seen the effects of Christmas yet,” he said. “We will next week. We won’t see it in our numbers of people hospitalized. We won’t see it in patients on ventilators. We won’t see it on deaths. But we will see it in the case rate…. If we didn’t do a good job, we’re going to see a continuation of this surge.”

The California Department of Public Health reported 30,921 new COVID-19 cases in the state as of Dec. 30 and 432 new deaths for a total of 24,958 deaths of people statewide with COVID-19 since the coronavirus arrived in California.

In a press release before the New Year, county government officials again urged the public to “stay home, except for essential needs, wear a mask any time you leave the house, keep six feet distance from others, wash your hands, and only gather with people in your home.”


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