Orange County reports its highest daily coronavirus case count

UCI healthcare workers wave to first responders giving them a drive-by salute.
Healthcare workers at UC Irvine Medical Center wave to first responders giving them a drive-by salute in mid-April.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Orange County confirmed 229 additional coronavirus cases Thursday, its highest daily case count since the start of the pandemic. The total broke the previous day’s record of 156 new cases.

As testing capacity expands, the number of cases reported has continued to rise across California. So far, more than 61,600 Orange County residents have been tested for the virus, with 1,510 results reported Thursday.

But the growing numbers aren’t only because of an increase in testing, Orange County Health Care Agency Director Clayton Chau said during a media briefing Thursday.


More people have become seriously ill from the virus in recent weeks, Chau said, including many in nursing homes and jails. Those populations also account for many of those hospitalized with COVID-19. There are 227 people hospitalized, and 79 of those individuals are in intensive care.

“Most is due to a volume of cases identified in nursing homes and jails in the past two weeks,” Chau said about the recent surge. “The congregate care population accounts for a fair proportion.”

Officials were not able to say how many of these individuals accounted for Thursday’s numbers. Of the more than 3,900 people of the county’s 3.1 million residents who have had known infections of the virus, 407 individuals have been residents of skilled nursing facilities and 331 have been Orange County jail inmates.

“The infection rate within those congregate living environment has hit Orange County in a delayed manner, compared to some of our large urban peers, but it is here now in Orange County and we have to step up the amount of testing and protocols for cleaning,” county executive officer Frank Kim said, adding that testing at such institutions has expanded.

Officials do not believe that the county’s newly reopened beaches has contributed to Thursday’s spike, but could not say definitively.

“We don’t know yet, “ Chau said.

A framework for reopening the county is expected to be presented to the Board of Supervisors, but officials did not offer extensive details for what that framework may be beyond what’s previously been revealed about testing and contact tracing capacity, essential worker protection and hospital preparedness.


“The O.C. reopening guidelines is intended to be a living document that remains dynamic with the evolution of the epidemic and emergence of new data,” Chau said.

Kim said that waiting to see no more than one death over a 14-day period — a guideline presented by Gov. Gavin Newsom for counties to reopen — would be a “restrictive, difficult measure for us to overcome.” Officials are instead focused on a stable or steady decline to guide policy.

Orange County supervisors, and dozens of residents who turned out to lobby them this week, are increasingly itching to relax restrictions that were imposed in response to the coronavirus outbreak and reopen businesses and public spaces.

May 13, 2020

Santa Ana and Anaheim, the county’s most populous areas, have been hit hardest, with each reporting more than 600 infections.

Confirmed cases in Orange county, by city

Aliso Viejo21
Buena Park115
Costa Mesa60
Coto de Caza6
Dana Point23
Fountain Valley45
Garden Grove198
Huntington Beach280
La Habra70
La Palma15
Ladera Ranch13
Laguna Beach44
Laguna Hills25
Laguna Niguel35
Laguna Woods8
Lake Forest35
Los Alamitos53
Midway City9
Mission Viejo58
Newport Beach131
Rancho Mission Viejo6
Rancho Santa Margarita18
San Clemente53
San Juan Capistrano42
Santa Ana665
Seal Beach14
Trabuco Canyon11
Villa Park5
Yorba Linda61
All of Orange County3,968

*“Other” includes unincorporated areas. **”Unknown” refers to cases pending investigation.

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