Orange County records 23 additional coronavirus cases; lower increases make officials ‘cautiously optimistic’

The coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease COVID-19 is seen isolated from a patient in the United States.
(National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

Known cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Orange County increased by 23 on Tuesday, with no new deaths reported, the county Health Care Agency said.

The update came a day after the county said cases increased by only nine on Monday, the lowest number since March 17, before Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order.

Orange County hasn’t reported a coronavirus-related death since Sunday.

Over the weekend, the case count grew by 85 on Saturday and 57 on Sunday, with two new deaths reported.

After Tuesday’s update, countywide cases sit at 1,299, with 19 deaths, the Health Care Agency said. The cumulative count comes from 14,977 tests.

The health agency also said that 122 people were hospitalized with the virus Tuesday, 62 of them in intensive care.

Though daily changes are preliminary and have varied widely over the past month, Tuesday’s 23 additional cases represented only a 1.8% increase day to day, and the total increase in the past two days is the county’s lowest two-day total in three weeks.

“It’s important to note that ... we must monitor case counts over time for a more complete picture,” the health agency said in social media posts Monday.

“We are cautiously optimistic that the actions we have been asking Orange County residents to take through the governor’s executive order, as well as the state health officer’s order to stay at home, social distancing … are beginning to have an impact,” David Souleles, director of public health services for the Health Care Agency, said Tuesday.

Given promising signs that such measures could be making a difference statewide, some officials — including Newsom — have begun publicly discussing what would need to happen for things to start returning to normal.

Health officials say that lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions will likely be a gradual process.

“I think the goal would be to lighten the restrictions over a period of time,” Souleles told the Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. “So rather than a light switch that says on a particular day we would go back to pre-COVID activity levels ... we would be backing out over time and slowly loosening the restrictions.”

Supervisor Lisa Bartlett agreed that a cautious approach is the best road forward.

“The worst thing we can do is lift restrictions and the next thing you know we’ve got a surge in cases and our health system gets overwhelmed,” she said.

Supervisor Andrew Do said “the best that we can hope for is to see what we’ve seen, which is a relatively positive result.”

Here are the latest case counts for select Orange County cities, with their numbers per 10,000 residents:

  • Anaheim: 148 (4.1 cases per 10,000 residents)
  • Santa Ana: 117 (3.5 cases per 10,000 residents)
  • Irvine: 103 (3.7 cases per 10,000 residents)
  • Huntington Beach: 88 (4.3 cases per 10,000 residents)
  • Newport Beach: 87 (10 cases per 10,000 residents)
  • Laguna Beach: 37 (15.8 cases per 10,000 residents)
  • Costa Mesa: 26 (2.2 cases per 10,000 residents)
  • Fountain Valley: 20 (3.5 cases per 10,000 residents)

Updated figures are posted daily at

Hillary Davis is a Daily Pilot staff writer. Luke Money writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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