Coronavirus daily case rates continue to decline, but not enough yet for Orange County to move into the less restrictive yellow tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
The county’s weekly averages for adjusted daily case rate per 100,000 residents improved from 3 last Tuesday to 2.8. The overall positivity rate improved from 1.6% to 1.4%.
The county’s Health Equity Quartile rate, which measures positivity in hotspots in disadvantaged communities, improved from 1.8% to 1.7%. The county’s positivity rates qualify for the least-restrictive yellow tier of the state system, but the case counts are still in the orange tier.
A graduation into the yellow tier requires that the case rate must get below 2 per 100,000 population.
The county’s general trends continue to be encouraging, with officials reporting 127 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday.
The cumulative case count is now at 253,153.
“We were nervous for a couple of days when we saw a small rise in hospitalizations, but those numbers have gone back down and we’re through the spring break cycle, and the numbers are looking good,” Orange County CEO Frank Kim said Monday.
“Today, we’re looking at case rates of 2.8” per 100,000 residents, he added.
The county also logged four more coronavirus fatalities, increasing the overall death toll to 4,900, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
The number of COVID patients in county hospitals inched down from 128 Monday to 127 Tuesday, but the number of those in intensive care increased from 22 to 25.
The county has 39.3% of its ICU beds available and 73% of its ventilators.
Another 5,994 COVID-19 tests were logged Tuesday for a total of 3,554,594.
Kim said staff at the vaccination sites have been trained to make sure anyone who is underage has a parent or legal guardian with them. A letter from a parent will not be accepted, he said.
There has been “no significant changes in the weekly allocation of doses, so we’re still doing 15,000 to 16,000” inoculations daily, Kim said.
“We’re still waiting for the CDC to give us guidance on the Johnson & Johnson” vaccine, which has been placed on hold while officials consider blood clotting issues with six recipients, Kim said.
County officials are distributing about 15,000 doses of vaccine a day at county-run sites, and pharmacies, hospitals and private mobile clinics are doling out another 15,000 a day, Kim said.
So far, the county has dispensed about 2 million doses of vaccine, Kim said.
County-run vaccination sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. as usual, but on Thursdays, the OC Fair and Event Center site will be open from noon to 8 p.m., Kim said. The Santa Ana College vaccination site also offers noon to 8 p.m. hours on Mondays, he added.
If the night hours are popular, officials will consider adding more evening hours in the future, Kim said.
The four additional deaths logged Tuesday raised the death toll so far in April to seven. The death toll for March stands at 169.
The death toll for February is 569. The death toll for January, the deadliest month in the pandemic, remains at 1,507. And December’s death toll is 929.
The December and January deaths reflect a surge fueled by the holidays and represent nearly half of the entire death toll for the pandemic in Orange County. The death reports are often delayed, and one of the fatalities logged over the weekend happened on Dec. 1.