By Shawn Raymundo and Zach Cavanagh
Coronavirus cases continue to sharply rise across California, as on Wednesday, June 24, the state’s health department reported record highs in new single-day cases and hospitalizations since the start of the ongoing pandemic.
Roughly 7,150 new coronavirus cases were added to the state’s cumulative total of 190,222 confirmed cases on Tuesday, June 23, according to the California Department of Public Health’s daily report Wednesday.
As testing increased to more than 96,000 tests, the positivity rate of confirmed cases increased to 5.1%, up from 4.6% a week ago.
The number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and were being treated at hospitals was 4,095 on Tuesday—the most hospitalizations the state as seen in a single day. Nearly 1,270 of them were admitted to intensive care units.
In a state update on Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom assured that California was still equipped to handle these increases.
Newsom noted that 8% of the state’s total hospital capacity is currently being occupied by coronavirus patients. There are 73,867 hospital beds in the state with 52,745 surge beds that could be made available.
Of the ICU patients, Newsom said that about 30% of the state’s ICU beds are taken with 4,034 available. There are 11,529 ventilators available in the state.
“(Cases and hospitalizations) have increased over the last number of days,” Newsom said, “but again, we are confident in our capacity, in the short run, to meet the needs of those most in need in the state of California.”
Earlier this week, Newsom said that while he doesn’t intend for the state to revert back to stricter social distancing measures and restrictions, “we are prepared to do that if we must.”
The rise in cases follow California’s move into the third stage of Newsom’s four-phase reopening plan. Back on June 12, bars, gyms, movie theaters, professional sports (without spectators) and schools were given the green light to reopen with modifications.
Newsom last week also issued a new order, directing Californians to wear face coverings while out in public, particularly in high-risk, crowded areas such as indoor shops, health care settings and public transportation.
Orange County has also seen an uptick in new coronavirus cases as 354 more people had tested positive as of Wednesday, marking a seven-day average high of 274 new cases, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency’s latest data.
The county’s hospitalization numbers also reached a new high on Wednesday with 363 people currently being admitted to a hospital for COVID-19 and 145 of them needing to be treated in ICUs.
In the three South County cities, new coronavirus cases have also continued to steadily increase with San Clemente’s cumulative total on Wednesday reaching 85—10 more than the week prior.
Dana Point’s cumulative case total was at 41 on Wednesday—a seven-day increase of four cases—while San Juan Capistrano’s total was at 77, an increase of eight cases in one week.
The death toll in Orange County jumped to just under 300 on Wednesday, as the county health office reported 26 deaths added to the cumulative total. Noting that the deaths reported Wednesday is a new high, the agency stressed that the number represents deaths that occurred as far back as May 9, and are just being counted now.
“While this is the highest number of deaths reported in one day, we’d like to remind the community that the deaths reported to us today does NOT mean 26 individuals lost their lives today,” the agency explained in a post to its Twitter account.
“A concentrated effort was made to compare death certificates received from the County Office of Vital Records to existing cases in the State’s CalREDIE reporting system, resulting in the confirmation of 26 new deaths,” the agency said in separate Tweet.
The California Reportable Disease Information Exchange (CalREDIE) is the state health department’s electronic tool to track and surveil disease reports.
Statewide, 52 new deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 5,632 as of Tuesday.
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.