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California

Orange County sees biggest one-day jump in coronavirus infections, three new deaths

Cyclists have the street to themselves in Newport Beach
Cyclists have the street to themselves in Newport Beach on Tuesday.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Orange County saw its biggest single-day increase in coronavirus infections so far Wednesday, as officials announced 107 new cases — more than in the previous three days combined — and three additional deaths.

In all, 606 COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths have been confirmed countywide, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The latest maps and charts on the spread of COVID-19 in California.

Of those who have died, six were 65 or older and two were between 25 and 34. One was between 35 and 44 and the other was between 45 and 64.

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Sixty-seven patients were hospitalized as of Wednesday, 31 of them in intensive care.

Though the one-day increase was the biggest seen so far — prior to Wednesday, Orange County hadn’t announced more than 80 new cases in a given day — the recent surge continued a steady skyward trend in terms of coronavirus infections in the region.

A week ago, there were only 184 confirmed cases countywide.

The latest update also poured cold water on any hope that the relatively small case growth reported last weekend indicated the county had turned a corner — a conclusion health officials had warned against.

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Richard Sanchez, director of the county Health Care Agency, said Tuesday that “it would be false to say the current case count is going downward.”

“Many people have mild symptoms and they never get tested,” he said. “We don’t really know the true count of people who may have COVID-19 currently in Orange County, because we don’t have that testing capability.”

Countywide, 7,271 people had been tested as of Wednesday.

As the number of coronavirus infections continues its upward trajectory, officials announced Wednesday that the Fairview Developmental Center — a state-owned property in Costa Mesa — will be used as an alternative care site to relieve stress on other regional hospitals.

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Repurposing the center, which has long housed adults with developmental and behavioral disabilities, is part of a wider effort to boost hospital capacity statewide.

Fairview, at 2501 Harbor Blvd., will provide up to 1,100 new hospital beds that should be available later this month, according to Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach).

“Around the world and in other states, we have seen the horrific images and heard the heartbreaking stories of COVID-19 patients dying in hospital corridors because there are not enough beds,” she said in a statement. “We are aggressively preparing for California’s surge to try to avoid that nightmare.”

Nancy Bargmann, director of the California Department of Developmental Services, said her agency “is pleased to be a part of statewide solutions to meet the moment by increasing hospital capacity for the general public through the utilization of our Fairview facility.”

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State medical personnel will staff the site, and admissions “will be determined by local medical providers with an emphasis on moving patients who require monitoring and low-to-medium levels of care,” according to state officials.

Doing so, officials said, will free up space at traditional hospitals for patients in more serious condition.

“As our nation and country face this public health crisis together, Costa Mesa leaders have undertaken a coordinated and collaborative effort with all levels of government and we remain in constant communication,” City Manager Lori Ann Farrell Harrison said in a statement. “With the rise in COVID-19 cases in Orange County to 606 and 10 deaths, it is imperative that we have the resources needed to treat all those who need care.”

Though Costa Mesa officials fiercely fought against a proposal in February to move coronavirus patients to Fairview, they said this week that much has changed since then and it is vital to work together to combat the disease.

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“COVID-19 is a beast raging through our communities,” Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley said in a statement. “The threat of the virus upends our lives. Our only defense is the strength of our people. It takes sacrifice, courage, patience, trust and strong partnerships. Now more than ever we must join forces to crush COVID before it crushes us.”


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