Orange County reported 69 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths Sunday.
The number of COVID patients in county hospitals ticked down from 114 Saturday to 113, while the number of those in intensive care rose from 22 to 25, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
Sunday’s numbers brought the county’s totals to 253,494 cases and 4,933 fatalities since the pandemic began.
The county has 34.6% of its ICU beds and 73% of its ventilators available.
Another 10,598 tests were reported Sunday for a total of 3,610,685.
County officials had expressed optimism on Friday, when the hospitalization total fell to 100.
“That’s great,” Orange County CEO Frank Kim said of the hospitalization rates. “It really gives me hope. It really does.”
In another sign of the improving situation, Kim said he would recommend to the Orange County Board of Supervisors at Tuesday’s meeting that it is time for him to relinquish his authority to sign emergency contracts without board approval.
“There’s really no reason to have delegated authority anymore and I’ve asked the board to terminate that,” Kim said. “It’s a stable operation now and the contracts we needed have been implemented.”
Kim said it was an “awesome responsibility to spend taxpayer funds, but there should be public view of those types of transactions.”
Board of Supervisors Chairman Andrew Do said it was no longer necessary to have the chief executive handle coronavirus contracts with the same speed needed last year.
The emergency power was necessary so the county could be as “nimble” as required “with the situation that changed almost on a daily basis,” Do said. “If we have to wait two weeks for every board meeting or call special meetings every week, we’d never get things done. But now we know the flow. Now we know the staffing we need and things are falling into a system, a pattern that we can anticipate.”
In another sign of a return to normalcy, the county will soon shut down its vaccine distribution site at Disneyland, which is set to reopen on Friday.
“In many ways it’s a positive sign,” Do said. “Disneyland is getting back to business. It’s a good sign for the economy and the well-being of our economy.”
The appointments at Disneyland will be moved to the Anaheim Convention Center. Kim said the county can still provide vaccinations for the disabled at the Orange County Fairgrounds and Soka University.
The supervisors on Tuesday are also expected to consider using $30 million from the most recent federal relief package to provide grants to local small businesses and nonprofits affected by the pandemic, Kim said. Some of the money will be for food assistance to the needy as well, Kim said.
Providence, the national nonprofit healthcare provider, partnered with Edwards Lifesciences, an Orange County-based medical technology company, and the cities of Irvine, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa and Tustin to open two mass vaccination clinics.
One opened Wednesday at the Edwards Lifesciences offices at 3009 Daimler St. in Santa Ana, and the other at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine will open on Monday as a drive-thru clinic.
Coronavirus daily case rates continue to decline, but not enough for Orange County to move into the least-restrictive yellow tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
According to numbers released Tuesday, 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.