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Orange County tops 3,000 coronavirus cases as death toll reaches 65

David Peck, 82, enjoys the view of the Laguna Beach shoreline Tuesday morning as the city reopened its beaches for active use.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Orange County reached a grim milestone Wednesday as health officials announced the region has surpassed 3,000 confirmed novel coronavirus infections.

Included in the county’s cumulative case count of 3,004 are 65 deaths — an increase of four since Tuesday.

Twenty of the county’s coronavirus-linked deaths have been announced since Friday.

Despite the recent fatalities, the county’s observed mortality rate associated with COVID-19 remained at about 2.1% — significantly lower than the state’s, which is roughly 4%.

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The latest maps and charts on the spread of COVID-19 in Orange County, including cases, deaths, closures and restrictions.

The 131 new coronavirus infections reported Wednesday were the second-most in a single day since the outbreak began, according to county health officials. The three biggest one-day spikes have all occurred within the last week.

The growth in case count has coincided with an increase in COVID-19 testing. To date, 40,707 such tests have been administered in the county — including more than 11,500 in the last week alone.

As of the latest update, 192 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized countywide, 73 of them in intensive care.

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This week also has seen the county’s famous coastline gradually reopen for active recreation under a series of state-approved plans.

The latest city to get Sacramento’s sign-off was Newport Beach, which announced Wednesday that residents can now head to the coast for activities such as walking, running, hiking, biking, swimming, surfing and fishing from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Newport Beach residents can use city beaches again for activities like walking, running, biking, swimming, surfing and fishing from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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“While the active recreation model was not the preferred choice by the City Council, after discussions with our public safety personnel, we are confident that city staff will manage the beaches effectively under the approved plan,” Mayor Will O’Neill said in a statement.

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a temporary closure of all beaches in the county after expressing concerns about the crowds that flocked there over a sweltering weekend. The governor chastised beachgoers, saying failure to heed state health orders to stay at home and maintain appropriate social distancing could prolong the spread of the coronavirus in California.

Two weeks ago, California reported its highest one-week toll — 542 fatalities among people infected with the coronavirus. Last week, the weekly death toll dropped 9% to 495.

Even the partial reopening of Orange County’s coastline could provide relief for residents seeking a reprieve from yet another heat wave, which is expected to bake Southern California through Thursday.


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