A jump in inland coronavirus cases has contributed to the recent surge in countywide figures for Orange County, where a curve that had once appeared to be flattening is now once again on the rise.
Based on data provided by the OC Health Care Agency and analyzed by the Business Journal, the average daily reported cases on a weekly basis had shown signs of decreasing in mid-April, when there were about 50 new cases reported each day.
As of May 7, that figure had been topping 100 for several consecutive days, due to continued increases in testing figures as well as a rise in cases from inland cities, most notably Anaheim and Santa Ana.
Cities that saw initially higher numbers, meanwhile, continue to decline.
These dips in case counts are occurring in coastal areas such as Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, which at the end of March averaged 15 and nine cases per 10,000 residents, respectively—the highest in the region.
For the two weeks ending May 7, the two cities, with a total population of about 110,000, had four and 14 new cases, respectively.
Meanwhile, new cases started springing up inland, specifically in Anaheim and Santa Ana; they have been the two largest generators of new cases in OC for the week ending May 7.
The cities had 192 cumulative cases as of April; that figure has since surged to about 1,000 as of May 7, with each city’s case count increasing with each week.
For the week ending May 7, Anaheim had 111 new cases, bringing its total to 457. Santa Ana, meanwhile, had approximately 164 new cases for that week, with a total of about 530 cases, including about 100 cases reported from the Santa Ana Jail.
The Health Care Agency no longer totals Santa Ana’s figures with cases from the county jail, so the Business Journal has estimated the city’s weekly total as of May 7 to maintain consistency.
Together, the two cities have a population of nearly 700,000, representing about 20% of the county’s total 3.2 million residents. The two cities’ new cases, totaling about 275, make up more than 40% of OC’s totals for the week ending May 7.
Other emerging hot spots are Orange and Garden Grove, which have reported more than 50 new cases apiece in the past week.
Unequal initial access to testing, a denser population, and a large pool of residents working in essential jobs such as construction and delivery are all socioeconomic factors that have contributed to a rise in cases inland, according to researchers from the University of California-Irvine.
Just as initial increased access to testing contributed to higher case counts for coastal cities in South Orange County, the county has seen jumps in testing figures in recent weeks, leading to higher overall cases.
About 1,240 people have been tested each day on average for the week ending May 6; up from 1,179 and 684 for the two preceding weeks.
North of 43,400 people in OC had been tested as of last Wednesday.
Hospitalizations are also on the rise, with 188 average daily hospitalizations for the week ending May 6, up from 165 for the week ending April 29.
There has been a decrease in ICU patients in the past two weeks, from 65 to 62 for the week ending May 6.
The county tracks data from 25 hospitals totaling 5,903 beds, including 1,024 beds recently added to account for COVID-19.