Orange County’s January COVID-19 Death Toll Jumps by 34

SANTA ANA (CNS) – Orange County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations continued a steady decline, according to data from the state released Friday.  

The number of COVID-positive patients in Orange County hospitals dropped from 581 Thursday to 538 Friday, with the number of those patients in intensive care ticking down from 118 to 102, according to the state Department of Public Health.

The county had 22.2% of its ICU beds available and 59.6% of its ventilators as of Thursday. Local health officials become concerned when the level of ICU beds falls below 20%.

Of those hospitalized, 84% are unvaccinated and 86% in ICU are not inoculated, the Orange County Health Care Agency reported.

The OC HCA did not provide an update on Friday because of Lincoln’s birthday holiday.

All but nine of the 43 deaths reported Thursday occurred in January, according to the OC HCA. The others occurred this month, September and August.

January’s death toll increased to 321. Of those who died in January and February, 180 were not vaccinated, 82 were fully vaccinated with no booster shot and 29 were vaccinated with a booster, Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, the county’s deputy health officer, said Wednesday.

Of those with three shots, 27 were 65 and older, she told reporters on a weekly media call. One was in the 55 to 64 age range and the other was 45 to 55, she said.

Chinsio-Kwong said she expects the death toll from the Omicron variant- driven surge to keep rising. She said the fatalities will continue to roll in over the next two months with “high death numbers.” Most of the victims are unvaccinated and those who were inoculated tend to be elderly and have underlying health issues, she said.

The county also reported 1,242 new positive COVID tests Thursday, raising the cumulative total to 530,036 since the pandemic began. The county’s cumulative death toll increased to 6,308.

Five of the fatalities logged Thursday were skilled nursing facility residents and one was an assisted living facility resident, raising the death tolls in those categories to 1,251 and 657, respectively.

Outbreaks — defined as three or more infected residents — decreased from 31 to 23 at assisted living facilities from Feb. 7-9, the most recent data available, and dropped from 25 to 20 for skilled nursing facilities.

The county’s jails had 58 infected inmates Thursday, down from 76 as of Wednesday, with the results of 257 tests pending.

The county’s adjusted daily new case rate per 100,000 residents dropped from 58.2 on Tuesday to 47.7 Thursday. The testing positivity rate dropped from 11.3% to 9.7% and fell from 9.5% to 8.2% in the health equity quartile, which measures underserved communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

The case rate per 100,000 people decreased from 39.3 on Jan. 29 to 17.5 on Feb. 5 for those fully vaccinated with a booster shot; from 63.7 to 21 for those fully vaccinated with no booster; and 101.2 to 62.2 for those not fully vaccinated.

The number of fully vaccinated residents in Orange County rose from 2,399,059 last week to 2,412,117, according to data released Thursday. That number includes an increase from 2,245,066 last week to 2,257,774 of 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 increased from 153,993 to 154,343. Booster shots increased from 1,137,045 to 1,162,927.

In the most recently eligible age group of 5 to 11 years old, the number of children vaccinated increased from 67,784 to 72,982 versus 195,598, who have not been vaccinated. It’s the least vaccinated age group in Orange County. The next-worst vaccinated eligible age group is 25 to 34, with 321,145 inoculated and 138,256 who have not gotten a shot.

The age group that has gotten the most booster shots is 55 to 64.  

Of the deaths logged Thursday, five occurred this month, increasing this month’s death toll to nine so far.

The deadliest days of the pandemic last month were Jan. 10 and 22 with 15 fatalities on each day. That tops the deadliest day during the summer surge by two. The deadliest day during the pandemic was Jan. 2, 2021, when 71 people died from COVID-related causes in Orange County.

December’s death toll increased by two to 105, November’s stands at 112 and October’s at 135.

September’s death toll increased by one to 199, while August’s also ticked up by one to 185.

In contrast, the death toll before the Delta variant fueled a late-summer surge was 31 in July, 20 in June, 26 in May, 47 in April, 202 in March and 620 for February.

January 2021 remains the deadliest month of the pandemic, with a death toll of 1,598, ahead of December 2020, the next-deadliest with 985 people lost to the virus.

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