OC’s COVID-19 Infections Rising, Hospitalizations Level

SANTA ANA (CNS) – Orange County’s COVID-19 infection rates continued a steady upward swing, but hospitalizations remained about the same, according to data released Friday by the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Hospitalizations ticked down from 140 on Monday to 132 on Thursday, with the number of intensive care unit patients dropping from 18 to 11, according to the agency. Eleven more fatalities were logged from last month.

The county has 28.5% of its ICU beds available, well above the 20% level when officials get concerned.

“Hospital numbers moved slightly in the right direction and certainly the ICU level doesn’t concern me,” Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, told City News Service on Friday.

“Frankly, I’d rather see hospitalizations below 100 than above it, but I’ve already said and I’m not changing my mind that we have to see 200 before I’m really concerned.”

Some of those hospital cases may be what officials call “incidental,” as they are patients who were admitted to be treated for another malady and tested positive. It was unclear what the ratio is.

The county’s testing positivity rate increased from  6.9% on Monday to 7.6% as of Thursday. The rate went from 3.2% to 3.8% in the health equity quartile, which measures the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

The 7.6% rate “is too high, but everyone knows Covid is happening. It’s not a secret,” Noymer said. “So it’s punching through boosted people. … Breakthroughs are happening and it’s sort of more of the same.”

Noymer said he is most concerned about a rising tide next winter.

“My real big fear is next winter, also because people are over getting boosted again and again and winter will be another six months away of waned immunity,” he said.

The daily case rate per 100,000 people in Orange County increased from 23.7 to 25.6 Thursday on a seven-day average with seven-day lag, and from 17.7 to 19.2 for the adjusted rate with a seven-day average and seven-day lag.

The county logged 3,091 more infections Tuesday through Thursday, raising the cumulative case count to 575,086. The overall death toll increased to 7,045.

Of those hospitalized, 83.3% are unvaccinated, and 86.5% of ICU patients are not inoculated, according to the OCHCA.

All of the fatalities logged Friday occurred last month. May’s death toll rose to 21, while April’s death toll stands at 30, March’s is 86, February’s is 330, January’s is 554, and December’s is 115.

The case rate per 100,000 people for fully vaccinated residents who have received a vaccine booster increased from 27.7 on May 21 to 30.8 on May 28, the latest data available show. The case rate for residents fully vaccinated with no booster went from 17.2 to 18.3, and the case rate for residents not fully vaccinated went from 25.2 to 27.

The number of vaccines administered in Orange County increased from 2,315,464 to 2,318,150, according to Tuesday’s data.

That number includes an increase from 2,175,562  to 2,178,671 residents who have received the two-dose regimen of vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna.

The number of residents receiving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine decreased from 139,902 to 139,479 as officials continue to adjust to a new accounting of shots administered in the counties across the state.

Booster shots increased from 1,283,905 to 1,292,844..

In the age group of 5 to 11 years old, the number of children vaccinated increased from 90,917 to 91,281, versus 177,299 who have not been vaccinated.

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