OC CEO Kim Tests Positive for COVID-19

SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County CEO Frank Kim has been as careful as possible to avoid being infected with COVID-19, so he said he was “startled'' when he tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Initially, I was a bit startled since I had a negative test'' just days before his diagnosis, which came Nov. 10, Kim told City News Service.

Kim said he began feeling symptoms on Nov. 7.

“I thought it was the flu,'' he said. “How could I have COVID because I had a negative test (on Nov. 6).''

He felt more symptoms the following day, including “a little body ache,'' he said.

“I thought before I go back to work I better be really careful'' and get another test on Nov. 9, Kim said.

A county contact tracer suspected that Kim was infected after meeting with a staffer Nov. 5, Kim said. That staffer tested positive for coronavirus Nov. 10, and then Kim's test results came back positive.

“But I hadn't interacted with anybody and hadn't left the house,'' so no one else was infected, Kim said. “The good news is, number one, we were following and responding quickly and the contact tracers were able to contact and test everyone, so that part of it is working. The unfortunate thing is even if you're working with a very small stable cohort of employees ... it's not a guarantee you're not going to transmit it.''

Kim said he was reluctant to share his diagnosis because he does not want to be the focus of county news, but he wanted his case to be a cautionary tale to others about the risk of contracting coronavirus.

“That's really the message -- even if you're physically healthy you can get COVID and it can take you many weeks to recover,'' Kim said.

More than a week into the illness he still experiences symptoms, the CEO said.

“It's been seven days or so and I still don't feel back to normal and I'm not in a position to leave the house, and it's very difficult,'' Kim said.

He said he is running a low-grade fever off and on, and it strikes at unpredictable times. He also experienced occasional loss of taste and smell.

“When you have COVID you don't have an appetite. Things don't taste right,'' he said. “Some things taste normal. Other things don't.''

Kim said he has done his own “taste tests'' with various foods.

“The only thing that tastes like I remember are bananas and honey melon,'' Kim said. “Lemon jelly beans have no particular flavor. Vegetables don't taste like anything.''

Orange County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Andrew Do noted how careful Kim has been.

“I don't know of anyone who is more vigilant in protecting himself,'' Do said. “He has been tested many times.  But despite all the precautions he has COVID-19. ... He has been very careful about wearing a mask and minimizing his contact with people. I know because I'm in regular meetings with him and briefings and he has been tested regularly.''

Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said Kim's infection “shows you how easily COVID is transmitted'' because he has taken every precaution.

“People need to be aware of that as we approach the holiday season with family gatherings,'' Bartlett said.

Photo: Getty Images

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