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Ventura County added 794 positive cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the largest number ever recorded in a single day.
The new cases come on top of 127 cases reported Tuesday for a countywide total of 20,987 cases, with 3,919 cases currently active, according to public health data.
Dr. Robert Levin, Ventura County’s public health officer, confirmed the record-breaking milestone during a public briefing on the current state of the pandemic. He said the spike in cases may be due to the fact that the tests were taken five days after Thanksgiving, which is enough time for the virus to incubate and show positive test results.
“We’ll see how that plays out. We might be back down to 127, as we were the day before yesterday, tomorrow,” Levin said. “We’ll just see if that’s a fluke or not.”
Hospitalizations of COVID-19 decreased slightly Wednesday to 102 cases, down one from the record 103 hospitalizations recorded Tuesday. Among the hospitalized cases, those receiving treatment within intensive care units increased to 33 on Wednesday from 29 reported Tuesday.
Levin said Wednesday’s hospitalization caseload matches the peak of the summer COVID-19 surge recorded in July, though the continued upward trend indicated we were likely to exceed it soon enough.
No new deaths were reported Wednesday, leaving the county death toll at 185. The most recent COVID-19 deaths were reported Tuesday of an 85-year-old woman and an 98-year-old man, according to county officials.
The record number of positive cases also come after a tidal wave of testing, with 3,650 new people tested for the virus, bringing the total number of tested residents up to 277,658. Additionally, 140 of Wednesday’s 794 cases were from tests taken at least one week prior.
County Executive Officer Mike Powers said roughly 40,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 over the past two weeks in the county, with the past week averaging 684 tests per 100,000 residents daily.
“Thank you to our community for really jumping on this call to action to get tested,” Powers said.
Moorpark testing site to close due to winds
Officials during the briefing also announced several adjustments to the some of the county’s COVID testing sites, including enhanced staffing and longer hours.
The testing site at Moorpark College is set to close all day Thursday due to a forecast of high winds. However, starting on Friday, the site will be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. to serve the increased demand for COVID-19 testing.
The site at the Ventura County fairgrounds recently changed its hours of operation to be open six days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with closures on Wednesdays.
Wait times for each of the county’s testing sites will be updated daily on the County of Ventura’s official social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more.
All testing sites are free to those who live or work in Ventura County residents and operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. Proof of work or residency, such as an employee badge or driver’s license. will be requested at the test site. More information about locations, hours of operation and more can be found by visiting www.vcrecovers.org.
Upcoming shutdown and vaccines
Both Levin and Powers discussed the likelihood of a statewide shutdown coming from Gov. Gavin Newsom due to the rapid escalation of new COVID-19 cases throughout California.
Levin noted the effectiveness of a shutdown in slowing the spread of cases, citing the 30% decline reported in the United Kingdom from their recent shutdown. However, he also clarified Newsom was exploring less restrictive measures than the shutdown offered in the spring while maintaining the same levels of effectiveness.
Levin also discussed his research into the upcoming COVID-19 vaccines readying for emergency authorization by manufacturers Moderna and Pfizer. Levin said he recommends the vaccine to Ventura County residents.
“I will take this vaccine and will encourage my children and grandchildren to do so as well,” Levin said.
Levin highlighted the vaccines’ high success rate in clinical trials and low prevalence of serious side effects as his justification behind endorsing them. He noted the COVID-19 vaccines have a clinical success rate roughly twice as high as the average influenza vaccine.
“As far as side effects go, those have shown to be reasonable and tolerable with these vaccines. The vast majority of serious side effects would show up within a couple of months and we have not seen these,” Levin said.
Levin said the first round of vaccines will involve 330,000 doses for California residents within the next two weeks, followed by an additional 1.6 million by the start of 2021.
The first people to receive the vaccine will be people who are at the highest risk of exposure, such as frontline healthcare workers and those who work or live within longterm care facilities. The next group of vaccine recipients will be those who have high-risk medical conditions and adults over the age of 65.
Map: COVID-19 by county
More than 1.2 million of coronavirus have been reported elsewhere in California outside Ventura County. cq as of Dec. 2
The Star’s Data Central page has an interactive map tracking confirmed COVID-19 cases, recoveries and deaths across the state, country and world.
The map is updated automatically and shows a closeup of each California county, or zoom out to see numbers from around the nation and the world.
Not seeing the map? Click here to get to our interactive Data Central page: https://data.vcstar.com/coronavirus/.
Jeremy Childs is a breaking news and public safety reporter covering the night shift for the Ventura County Star. He can be reached by calling 805-437-0208 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find him on Twitter @Jeremy_Childs.