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Press Release

Local Health Emergency Terminated as the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Expands Available Resources for RSV and Other Diseases Under the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

(Santa Ana, CA) –  In response to the US Health and Human Services (HHS) notifications (on 12/2/22 and 12/15/22) to State Governors by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, that tools and resources have been added to the US COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) which expand capacity to respond to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and other infectious diseases, the OC Board of Supervisors voted to terminate the Local Health Emergency related to RSV.
County Health Officer and OC Health Care Agency’s (HCA) Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Regina Chinsio- Kwong initiated the Declaration of the Local Health Emergency on 10/31/22 due to record number of pediatric hospitalizations and emergency room visits. The goal of this Declaration was to obtain regulatory flexibilities for local hospitals and avail the County of Orange to additional mutual aid resources. The HHS announcements have now expanded the resources needed to address the burden on local hospital systems and has eased the need to seek mutual aid. The HCA’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) team will continue to monitor regional hospital capacity and the health care systems’ resources to support and facilitate needed assistance.
“RSV and flu cases continue to impact our pediatric hospital capacity,” said Dr. Chinsio-Kwong. “This adjustment to the PHE from our Federal partners, helps address local needs caused by the spread of non-COVID-19 illnesses, including RSV and the flu, and to address recent increased COVID-19 hospitalizations which are further straining our health care and hospital systems. The cancellation of the Local Health Emergency Declaration is not an indication that there is a reduction in cases of infection or spread of respiratory disease. It indicates only that additional resources and support are now available through the adjusted Federal PHE.”
For more information on RSV prevention, please visit
To help mitigate further spread of RSV and other respiratory illnesses during this winter surge, the HCA encourages residents to follow preventive measures, including remaining up to date with vaccinations such as flu and COVID-19, to reduce the severity of disease and to help reduce the burden on hospitals. Individuals are asked to follow preventative measures, including:

  • Stay home when you are sick and symptomatic.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your upper shirt sleeve, not your hands.
  • Mask when indoors or in large group settings.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially before and after eating and using the bathroom.
  • Get your flu shot and COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to prevent complications from these viral illnesses.

Additionally, as families and communities gather to celebrate the holidays and COVID-19 hospitalizations are increasing, the HCA further encourages residents to review the following information should you experience COVID-19 symptoms or are exposed:

  • Testing before gatherings will help mitigate the spread. Free test kits can be ordered by visiting
  • Act fast to seek COVID-19 treatment as treatment must begin within 5-7 days of when symptoms start. Effective treatments are now widely available for COVID-19 and are free. Treatments like the Paxlovid pill are safe and effective for preventing COVID-19 illness from becoming serious, can lead to testing negative sooner, and may lower the risk of long COVID.
    • Call your health care provider or an urgent care center or connect to a free telehealth provider today by visiting or calling 833-686-5051.
  • Isolate from others for at least 5 full days. Use the Personal Testing and Isolation Calculator to help you determine how long you should isolate.
  • Tell people you recently interacted with that they may have been exposed. You can do this by calling, texting, or emailing them, or notify them anonymously through the Tell Your Contacts website.

Creating a plan in the event of COVID-19 will help families be prepared for care in the event of infection. See CDC’s COVID-19 plan document.
Visit for current information on Orange County COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and Intensive Care Unit data.

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