Orange County’s COVID Hospitalizations Holding Steady

SANTA ANA (CNS) – The number of COVID-positive patients in Orange County hospitals remained unchanged Sunday at 189, according to the latest state data, with 18 of those patients being treated in intensive care, also unchanged from Saturday.

The latest figures come two days after local health officials said the county’s COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations have shown substantial increases in recent days.

The Orange County Health Care Agency reported 3,215 more infections Monday through Thursday, raising the cumulative case count to 582,507. The agency also logged 23 additional fatalities linked to the virus, upping the cumulative death toll to 7,068.

The OCHCA provides regular COVID updates on Tuesdays and Fridays.

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

The county’s testing positivity rate increased from 8.2% as of Monday to 11.1% as of Thursday. The rate went from 4.5% to 7.7% in the health equity quartile, which measures the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

The county’s daily case rate per 100,000 people increased from  26.8 as of Monday to 27.4 as of Thursday on a seven-day average with seven-day lag, and from 20.5 to 25.8 for the adjusted rate, also with a seven-day average and seven-day lag.

Of those hospitalized, 83.4% are unvaccinated, and 86.6% of the ICU patients are not inoculated, according to the OCHCA.

“The testing positivity concerns me, but it’s a little difficult to interpret because of the complexion of testing has changed,”  Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, told City News Service on Friday. “There’s more testing at home, which  means the tests that are recorded are disproportionately more severe cases, and so the increase in percentage positivity is very difficult to take at face value, but nevertheless the increase is up to 11%.”

The percentage could be thrown off by more at-home testing where people don’t always pass on the results to health officials. It’s also difficult to know how many of those hospitalized with COVID-19 happened to test positive and were admitted for some other reason or if they are being treated primarily for the virus, Noymer said.

Still, he added, it is worrisome that the patient level is approaching 200.

“I’ve said 200 would be concerning, and I stand by that,” Noymer said. “And now we’re perilously close.”

The case rate per 100,000 people for fully vaccinated residents who have received a vaccine booster increased from 27.8 on May 21 to 32.5 on May 28, the latest data available show. The case rate for residents fully vaccinated with no booster went from 17.2 to 19.2 and the case rate for residents not fully vaccinated went from 25.2 to 28.4.

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