Orange County’s weekly COVID-19 averages released Tuesday show the case rates have dropped below 1 in 100,000 and the positivity rate is nearly one-half of a percentage point.
According to the weekly state data released every Tuesday, the average for the county’s daily case rate per 100,000 residents dropped from 1.3 to 0.9. The overall test positivity rate improved from 0.8% to 0.6%, and the county’s Health Equity Quartile rate, which measures positivity in hot spots in disadvantaged communities, remained at 0.7%.
“It’s crazy low,” said Andrew Noymer, a UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, referring to the weekly averages.
“It doesn’t surprise me that much,” Noymer told City News Service. “I’ve always said that we were going to have this chaotic period during the emergence of COVID-19 and then we would have the seasonality, so it’s going to become like a flu. It won’t be a carbon copy of the flu. It will still have its covidness, but people are like where has Covid gone? It’s gone away, but where does the flu go every June? It percolates at extremely low levels.”
Noymer predicted that “June, July and August are going to look dandy, but then the kids will be back in school in late August and let the games begin. It’s going to come back. Will it be like last January? I doubt it, but this thing is not over.”
Noymer said the state is “doing very well” with vaccinations, so any wave in the fall will be tamped down because of that. States struggling with vaccinations may struggle in the fall and winter, Noymer said.
“People are going to say any lockdowns were useless because we’ve opened up and nothing is happening and that is the most specious argument,” Noymer said. “That’s just not the right logic.”
Orange County CEO Frank Kim agreed that, “The numbers are looking pretty good.”
County officials have seen an overall decline in demand for vaccinations, but, on the other hand, they are having success reaching many residents with mobile vaccination centers, particularly with the one in Santa Ana serving clients of CalOptima, the county’s insurance for low-income residents, Kim said.
“They were doing over 1,000 (vaccinations) a day,” Kim said of mobile vaccine points of distribution.
The county did not report statistics on Monday because of the Memorial Day holiday. On Tuesday, the county reported a combined 50 infections for Sunday and Monday, raising the cumulative to 255,291.
Hospitalizations remained at 63 on Tuesday, the same as Sunday, and the number of intensive care unit patients remained at 15, the same as Sunday.
Six more fatalities were logged over the long weekend, raising the death toll to 5,065.
Half of those deaths occurred in May, raising the death toll for last month to eight.
Two of the deaths occurred in January, the deadliest month during the pandemic, raising the death toll for that month to 1,548. One fatality was in December, raising the death toll for that month, the second deadliest, to 959.
The death toll for April stands at 41, and 182 for March. The death toll in February is 581.
Another 7,756 COVID-19 tests were reported Tuesday, bringing the county’s total to 3,928,158.
The county’s weekly average of tests per 100,000 is 233.1.
Orange County officially entered the least-restrictive yellow tier of the reopening blueprint on May 19. That allowed for greater attendance for many businesses such as movie theaters and gyms, while museums, zoos and aquariums can open at full capacity. For the first time, bars and distilleries can open indoors. Theme parks such as Disneyland can expand attendance.
The National Association of Counties Tuesday announced that Orange County Clerk-Recorder Hugh Nguyen was honored with a national award for his “Hitched at Honda Center” program in which couples were able to get married during the pandemic in the parking lot of the stadium. The award honors municipal programs that strengthen services.