Orange County reported 25 more deaths connected to the novel coronavirus on Saturday, the third-highest day on record as the number of confirmed cases continues to surge.
Health officials said that 109 deaths have been reported in the last two weeks, and 494 since the pandemic began. The deaths reported Saturday included seven people who lived in institutional settings such as nursing homes.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases countywide climbed to 29,011, with 702 new cases reported Saturday. The number of infections in Orange County has grown dramatically over the last month, and is now second only to Los Angeles County.
Across California, transmission rates for coronavirus continued to rise. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases topped 375,000 Friday, and the number of deaths exceeded 7,600.
Gov. Gavin Newsom added Orange County to his coronavirus watchlist because the share of COVID-19 tests that have come back positive, and the number of people infected per 100,000 residents, are too high to meet state benchmarks.
Over a seven-day period, 13.9% of COVID-19 tests came back positive. Over the last two weeks, officials have confirmed 12,531 new cases, an average of 396 positive tests per 100,000 Orange County residents — a rate equivalent to that of L.A. County.
Orange and Riverside counties have seen the number of hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19 infections nearly triple in the last two months. In San Bernardino County, that number has more than quadrupled. All three counties allowed many businesses to reopen a week before Los Angeles County.
California has mandated face coverings in public settings since June 18. But Orange County has become a hotbed of opposition to that rule, sparking concern from public health officials who say the coverings are among the most effective tools to slow the spread of the virus.
Orange County’s former health officer resigned after receiving weeks of verbal abuse, including a death threat, over her mandatory mask order.
Last week, education officials approved recommendations that would allow public schools to reopen in the fall without requiring social distancing or mandatory mask policies, prompting immediate backlash.