Orange County Thursday reported 38 more COVID-19 fatalities, raising the death toll to 2,546, but case and hospitalization rates continued a downward trend.
After two days of closures due to high winds, the COVID-19 vaccination site at Disneyland reopened Thursday, and county officials plan to open another large-scale location to administer doses this weekend.
The Disneyland “Super POD” — point of distribution — site was closed Tuesday and Wednesday as Santa Ana winds battered much of the Southland. There was concern about gusts uprooting the tents being used at the site.
Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said the next Super POD site for vaccinations will open Saturday at Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo. The vaccinations will be administered in the university’s gym beginning, with reservations expected to be accepted starting Thursday, Bartlett said.
She said the Soka site will be more convenient for seniors in Laguna Woods.
But county officials remain concerned about a slowdown in the supply of vaccines, county CEO Frank Kim said Wednesday. The county received 30,675 doses on Wednesday and are expecting another 14,000 by week’s end, he said.
The county hopes to ultimately open up to five large-scale vaccination sites, but until supplies of vaccines are assured, it likely won’t happen.
The county reported 1,340 new cases, raising the cumulative to 217,849.
Of the deaths reported Thursday, one was from a skilled nursing facility. Since the pandemic began, 770 of the fatalities were skilled nursing facility residents and 274 were assisted living facility residents.
Since Sunday, the county has reported 226 coronavirus-related fatalities. Last week, the county reported 279 deaths, up from 140 the prior week.
The reporting of the fatalities is often delayed as they come from multiple sources. The death toll for December, the deadliest month since the pandemic began, stands at 712, far outpacing the previous high of 379 in July during the summer surge.
The deadliest day since the pandemic started was Dec. 22 when 44 people died.
The county’s adjusted daily case rate per 100,000 has decreased to 67.1 from 78.8 last week.
The county’s Health Equity Quartile Positivity Rate, which measures the cases in highly affected, needier parts of the county, declined from 24.2% last week to 21.2%.
The county’s seven-day positivity rate dropped from 19.5% to 16.7%
Kim said the positivity rate has declined from 19.7% on Jan. 10 to 16% on Wednesday.
“Every single day since Jan. 10 the testing positivity rate has come down,” Kim said. “I see that as a positive.”
At the same time the volume of testing has gone up, Kim said.
“So what we’re seeing are hospital rates continue to come down on a rolling 3-day average, testing positivity has come down and testing volume remains high,” Kim said. “If 10 days is a trend we’re coming off the peak from the holidays.”
Hospitalization numbers continued to dip, dropping from 1,975 Wednesday to 1,935 Thursday, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. The number of coronavirus patients in intensive care increased dropped from 527 to 517.
The county’s state-adjusted ICU bed availability remains at zero, and the unadjusted figure stood at 5.4%. The state created the adjusted metric to reflect the difference in beds available for COVID-19 patients and non-coronavirus patients. The county has 35% of its ventilators available.
The Southern California region remains at zero ICU availability.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Coroner’s Department has had to provide trailers with freezers to store an average of about 100 bodies until funeral homes can catch up and take them, Kim said.
Bartlett said there have been problems with hospitals getting bodies to the coroner’s freezers, which have capacity for 1,100 bodies, because physicians are struggling with the paperwork as they care for patients. Other issues include caps on cremations, which the county may have to lift, and burials at cemeteries, which will have to be negotiated with union workers, Bartlett said.
The 20,166 test results reported Thursday raises the cumulative total to 2,494,463.
The county’s Othena.com app and website, where residents can get vaccination information and make appointments to get inoculated at the Disneyland mega-site that opened last week, have been heavily used since going online last Tuesday. There are about 250,000 people registered in Othena, officials said.
The county has improved from about 3,000 vaccinations to 4,500 a day over the weekend, Kim said.
The outbreak in the county’s jails has continued to decline with the number dropping from 126 inmates infected Wednesday to 61 on Thursday. The number of inmates hospitalized dropped from three to two as officials waiting the results of 48 more tests.
Outbreaks at nursing homes — defined as two or more over the past two weeks — continue with 34 skilled nursing facilities reporting outbreaks and 44 elderly assisted living facilities reporting an outbreak.
The delays in dropping off patients from ambulances to local hospitals decreased from an average wait time 90% of the time of 37 minutes, three seconds on Tuesday to 29 minutes and 23 seconds on Wednesday.
There are 15 Orange County residents being treated at Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa, which was set up to handle overflow from local hospitals, and 11 patients from Los Angeles County.
Mobile field hospitals, which have been set up to help medical centers triage COVID-19 patients, are in operation at UC Irvine, which added 50 beds, Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center, 25 beds, and St. Jude’s Hospital in Fullerton with 52 beds, Kim said.
Officials were also in the process of setting up or discussing mobile field hospitals at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo and Los Alamitos Medical Center.
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