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Coronavirus infections top 800 in Orange County as hospitalizations hit new high

Orange County continues to see a rapid rise in confirmed coronavirus infections, as its total case count hit 834 Sunday — up more than 400 from a week ago.

The county reported 124 new COVID-19 cases last weekend alone.

Also on Sunday, Orange County announced that 137 people were hospitalized — the most to date. Of those, 56 were in intensive care, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The county’s death toll remained at 14 in the latest update. Eight of the victims were at least 65 years old, and three were between the ages of 45 and 64.

Countywide, 60% of all confirmed COVID-19 patients are at least 45 years old.

As the case count grows, county officials are continuing to work to prevent the spread of the virus.

Those efforts include a recently announced deal to use two Ayres Hotels in Orange and Laguna Woods as temporary housing and medical facilities for those who are homeless.

The idea has incensed residents of Laguna Woods Village, who object to having homeless patients or the staff who cares for them so close to their retirement community — which has thousands of residents who are older than 55.

Dozens of them gathered outside the hotel Saturday afternoon to protest — at times shouting, “Don’t kill us,” and holding signs that read, “Exterminate seniors? COVID-19 beds in Laguna Woods = Death,” and “No! COVID-19 patients + retirement community = Death to our senior citizens.”

Laguna Woods city officials have said they are deeply concerned about the county’s decision and are exploring legal action.

From the county’s perspective, though, it’s vital to move people indoors quickly — as an outbreak among the homeless population could further strain local health systems. Officials also have said the Ayres facilities will be locked down, with patients unable to leave freely or have visitors.

The county is expected to further elaborate on its homelessness-related efforts on Monday.

Times staff writer Paloma Esquivel contributed to this report.

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