O.C. supervisor candidate Moorlach and his wife test positive for coronavirus

John and Trina Moorlach
John Moorlach, a former state senator and Orange County supervisor, announced Wednesday that he and his wife, Trina, had tested positive for the coronavirus and were self-isolating in their Costa Mesa home.
(Moorlach family)

John Moorlach’s campaign for Orange County supervisor hit a snag this week, after the former state senator and his wife, Trina, learned they had both tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Moorlach, who turned 65 in December, is one of five candidates actively campaigning for an open seat on the county board’s 2nd District, to be decided in a March 9 special election.

The former senator said in an interview Wednesday that he decided to break the news himself before the rumor mill caught wind of his diagnosis.


Moorlach acknowledged attending a series of campaign events and obligations throughout the last week, including a drive-through fundraiser at the Crystal Cove Shake Shack in Newport Beach and a precinct walk on Saturday.

He said that while participants mingled at those events, distancing protocols were observed and he and campaign members remained masked throughout.

“I did my best to stay socially distanced. [And] I’ve maintained a habit of keeping the mask on when I’m with people as best as possible,” he said, clarifying that he hasn’t been as strict with others who choose not to wear facial coverings.

When he began to feel under the weather a week ago, his first thought was he’d finally come down with a cold after a year of no signs of illness.

Feeling slightly feverish by Sunday, Moorlach on Monday went with his wife to be tested. Results confirmed within a matter of minutes that they had both been infected with the virus.

“I’d been so healthy for the last year — we followed all the protocols and been so careful,” he said Wednesday. “I’m just busting my brain on the where and how” they caught the virus.

Now, the former senator is isolating in his Costa Mesa home and notifying those with whom he may have had contact. Aside from the occasional cough, bouts of fatigue and long periods of sleep, Moorlach said he and his wife are feeling fine, given the circumstances, and are focused on recuperating.


“I’m trying to rest as much as I can, but I’m still working on trying to keep up with emails and other requests,” he said. “I’ve been invited to several other functions and am having to tell people I can’t come.”

The Moorlachs are among 245,135 county residents who have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic hit last March, according to figures provided Tuesday by the Orange County Health Care Agency.

As of Feb. 18, county health officials reported administering 512,348 doses of the vaccine, with 278,241 — about 54% — going to Orange County residents and employees 65 and older.

Moorlach’s age qualifies him to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as part of a Phase 1A group, which includes residents and employees 65 and older, along with those at risk of transmission and front-line healthcare workers.

This week, state vaccination guidelines opened up to Phase 1B recipients — teachers, food service and grocery workers as well as childcare providers and those who work in emergency services.

Despite having the opportunity to receive a vaccine, the former senator said he has not wanted to jump the line, especially when there are people older than he is who have not yet been vaccinated. His wife, at 64, is still too young to qualify under current designations.

Michelle Steel, whose departure from the Orange County Board of Supervisors in January for the U.S. House of Representatives created the 2nd District vacancy, reported Jan. 6 she had tested positive for the virus.

Moorlach said his experience has given him an added understanding of the virus and what must be done to pull through the pandemic.

“It is the real deal,” he said of the virus. “And we should all be as careful and respectful with the protocols as possible with everyone we interact with.”

Cardine writes for Times Community News.