Orange County posts its highest single-day COVID death total: 32

Orange County reported 32 new coronavirus deaths Thursday, a single-day high for the county.

The newly reported fatalities broke the previous one-day record — 31, set Saturday, according to The Times’ tracker — and pushed the county’s total COVID-19 deaths to 697.

Of the latest deaths, eight were residents of either skilled-nursing or assisted-living facilities, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Overall, about 45% of the county’s fatalities have been residents in such institutions.

Experts and health officials have said deaths are a lagging indicator of coronavirus spread and probably reflect exposures to the virus that occurred weeks earlier. Confirmed COVID-19 cases began rising sharply statewide in late May, when California reopened many sectors of its economy.

Orange County also announced 580 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, boosting its total to 38,711.

An estimated 28,109 people have recovered from the virus to date, health officials said.

According to the latest available data, 517 COVID-19 patients remain hospitalized countywide, with 171 of them in intensive care.

However, county officials noted that issues with the state’s CalREDIE electronic system, which collects information from laboratories and feeds it to state and local health departments, “may result in a lower number of daily COVID positive cases received and tests reported.”

The ongoing technical problems affect the state’s ability to track the spread of the virus, potentially resulting in significant undercounts of infections.

Michelle Steel, chairwoman of the county Board of Supervisors, urged the state Thursday “to provide timely, transparent information on the status” of the system.

“Public health officials and policymakers across the state rely on this data to understand COVID spread and make decisions on opening and closing schools, businesses and gatherings,” she said during a news conference. “It is essential to know the extent of the problems with the CalREDIE system and understand how it is affecting the data we report.”

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