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Orange County opens second COVID-19 testing super site at shuttered O.C. fairgrounds

A worker from 360 Clinic passes a COVID-19 self-administering test
A worker from 360 Clinic passes a COVID-19 self-administering test at a drive-through testing site on Wednesday morning at the Orange County fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

As California pushes to increase its coronavirus testing capacity, Orange County officials on Wednesday opened a new testing site at Costa Mesa’s OC Fair & Event Center to aid essential workers, first responders and those potentially exposed to the virus.

Individuals exhibiting symptoms, healthcare workers and residents and employees of congregate living facilities — along with teachers, grocery and food workers and public and utility employees — can register to be tested Mondays through Fridays, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., as long as they live or work in Orange County.

The new O.C. fairgrounds testing super site is the second of its kind countywide. The first, at the Anaheim Convention Center, has conducted more than 10,000 tests since opening July 15.

Santa Ana rolled out a Mobile Resource Center on Wednesday that will provide free COVID-19 testing, masks and information on assistance programs for low-income neighborhoods most impacted by the virus.

Both locations are backed by $550 million in federal CARES act funding received by the county and are operated through a partnership between the Orange County Health Care Agency, the cities of Anaheim and Costa Mesa and 360 Clinic. Laboratory services are provided by Fulgent Genetics.

Coronavirus testing super site at the O.C. Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.
A driver drops his COVID-19 self-administering test into a plastic waste bin at the drive-through testing site at the Orange County fairgrounds.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach), who attended a news conference marking the opening of the Costa Mesa site, said the boost in testing capacity is vital.

“This long-anticipated step of providing testing has finally arrived, thank goodness, for people of Orange County who desperately need testing and tracking, as well as masking, distance and leadership,” Rouda said afterward.

The new site comes as health officials Wednesday reported 448 new infections and another seven deaths, bringing the cumulative number of infections to 47,090 and countywide fatalities to 918. So far, a total of 611,144 tests have been given, including the 5,649 reported Wednesday.

It has been four days since Orange County was removed from a state virus watch list. If testing positivity rates, new cases and hospitalizations remain within thresholds defined by the California Department of Public Health, county schools may resume in-person instruction.

If the rates of new cases and tests performed, percentages of positive tests and hospitalizations, as well as available intensive care beds and ventilators remain at acceptable levels for the next two weeks, K-12 students could resume in-person classes after Labor Day weekend.

O.C. Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel said bringing the Costa Mesa testing site online is timely, as many teachers, students and school employees prepare for the potential reopening of school campuses in the wake of steadily declining countywide infections and hospitalizations.

“We understand that, with the start of school, there will be a need for our teachers, students and families to use super sites such as Costa Mesa to ensure that they are free from COVID-19 in order to return to the classroom,” Steel said.

“This site can get people in and out quickly and return their result within 48 to 72 hours,” she added.

Earlier this month, Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Andrew Do and 4th District Supervisor Doug Chaffee introduced a motion to allow schools to use the county’s testing capability to meet state guidelines for school reopening. It passed unanimously.

Do said Wednesday the county has four testing sites that together are conducting about 3,800 tests per day.

“I cannot understate how important this testing capability is and how it fits into everything we’re doing in the county to open up,” he added.

Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the Orange County Healthcare Agency
Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, answers questions from the media during a press conference at a COVID-19 self-administering drive-through super testing site on Wednesday at the Orange County fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the Orange County Health Care Agency and newly named county health officer, estimated the Costa Mesa testing site would likely process about 500 tests per day in the first week, before ramping up to around 1,000 daily tests by month’s end.

While most high school students in Orange County are at home staring at a computer screen, having begun the school year with distance learning, athletes in the Huntington Beach Union High School District started working out on campus this week.

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley said the city was proud to host the new site alongside the OC Fair & Event Center and to help provide a vital means of identifying and isolating potential future hot spots for the virus.

Foley, who took a test at the site the day before in a dry run, said the process was simple.

“If you think you are at all exposed to anyone who has COVID-19, you should go online, check the box ‘exposed' and come get tested,” she advised.

To register for free coronavirus testing, visit ochealthinfo.com/covidtest or call 1 (800) 446-8888. To learn more about who can be tested, visit occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/supersite.

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley
Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley speaks during a press conference at a COVID-19 self-administering drive-through super testing site on Wednesday morning at the Orange County fairgrounds.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Orange County COVID-19 stats

Here are the latest cumulative coronavirus case counts and COVID-19 deaths for select cities in the county:

  • Santa Ana: 9,132 cases; 226 deaths
  • Anaheim: 8,073 cases; 211 deaths
  • Huntington Beach: 2,126 cases; 59 deaths
  • Costa Mesa: 1,590 cases; 19 deaths
  • Irvine: 1,429 cases; 12 deaths
  • Newport Beach: 1,008 cases; 18 deaths
  • Fountain Valley: 456 cases; nine deaths
  • Laguna Beach: 173 cases; fewer than five deaths

Here are the case counts followed by deaths, by age group:

  • 0 to 17: 3,179; one
  • 18 to 24: 6,995; three
  • 25 to 34: 10,297; 13
  • 35 to 44: 7,599; 27
  • 45 to 54: 7,636; 78
  • 55 to 64: 5,690; 127
  • 65 to 74: 2,810; 184
  • 75 to 84: 1,603; 200
  • 85 and older: 1,250; 285

Updated figures are posted daily at occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc. For information on getting tested, visit occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-testing.

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