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Orange County’s coronavirus cases reach new daily high as officials continue to boost testing

Orange County sheriff's deputies applaud as nurses from the cardiac rehab unit walk to their cars after a shift at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo this month.
Orange County sheriff’s deputies applaud as nurses from the cardiac rehab unit walk to their cars after a shift at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo this month.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Orange County public health officials reported 145 new coronavirus cases Thursday — the largest single-day increase since the pandemic began — bringing the county’s total case count to 2,393.

This marks the fourth time in the past six days that Orange County has confirmed at least 100 new COVID-19 cases. The increases coincide with a dramatic rise in testing.

So far, 31,534 people have been tested for coronavirus infection in Orange County, including 1,594 on Thursday alone. The county has tested roughly 1,530 people per day on average this week, up from an average of 696 tests being conducted daily a week ago, said County CEO Frank Kim.

The boost in testing is “so important within Orange County to understand how the disease is spreading throughout our community and to provide us good information in terms of addressing the consequences of those infections,” Kim said.

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County health officials on Thursday also reported another coronavirus-related fatality, bringing the countywide death toll to 45. The county reported two fatalities the previous day.

But the observed mortality rate associated with COVID-19 — the disease caused by the coronavirus — continues to be just below 2%, significantly lower than the levels seen in neighboring Los Angeles County and statewide.

Officials also attribute the rise in cases and deaths, in part, to outbreaks in nursing homes, which have been hotbeds for the virus across the state.

There have been positive cases of the virus among staff or residents in at least eight skilled nursing facilities in the county, according to the latest information from the California Department of Public Health.

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The county has response teams that it deploys to skilled nursing facilities and other assisted living homes that help prioritize testing and ensure there are adequate infection control measures in place, said County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick.

“We’re working on securing more resources to increase the number of teams we have to respond to any outbreak we have in skilled nursing facilities as we expect to continue to see these,” she said. “Absolutely we are concerned about it and absolutely this is a priority area going forward.”


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