Orange County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations dipped down again, according to data released Wednesday, continuing a trend indicating a slowing of the summer surge.
Hospitalizations declined from 372 on Tuesday to 368, with the number of patients in intensive care dipping from 105 to 103, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
“Hospitalizations are essentially the same as yesterday, but that was a big decline from the day before so I’ll take it,” Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, told City News Service. “Four beds is not significant, but we’re moving in the right direction. Same thing with the ICU. And the percent positive is down from where it was, so everything is looking good.”
The weekly averages, which are released on Tuesdays, showed that the county’s case rate per 100,000 residents dropped from 16 to 15.3, while the testing positivity rate fell from 5.4% to 4.7%.
The county’s Health Equity Quartile positivity rate, which measures progress in the county’s low-income communities, dropped from 5.8% to 5.1%.
“Those are all good,” Noymer said. “The test positivity is very important and I like to see that dropping. That’s a kind of leading indicator so I’ll be unhappy if that goes sideways.”
The county had 25.3% of its ICU beds available and 65% of its ventilators.
The county logged 10 more COVID-related deaths Wednesday, raising the cumulative total to 5,326. Four of the fatalities occurred this month, doubling the death toll to eight for September. One of the deaths occurred in July, one was in June and another was in January.
Three occurred in August, raising the death toll for that month to 125. That figure stands in stark contrast to the rest of the summer.
The death toll for July was 22, 18 in June, 23 in May, 45 in April, 199 in March, 615 in February, 1,579 in January — the deadliest month of the pandemic — and 975 in December, the next deadliest.
The OCHCA also reported 352 new infections Wednesday, raising the cumulative total to 292,124 since the pandemic began.
On Friday, the county reported that a child under age 5 died due to complications from the virus, OC’s second juvenile fatality associated with COVID-19. Officials did not disclose the age or gender of the child but said there were underlying health conditions.
The county’s other juvenile COVID-19 fatality occurred last August. The victim was a teenage girl with significant underlying medical conditions.
Dr. Clayton Chau, the county’s chief health officer and director of the OCHCA, told the Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that there were eight children hospitalized with COVID-19 at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, with three in intensive care.
Most of the recent fatalities occurred in people aged 55 and older, according to OCHCA data.
Board Chairman Andrew Do, who is fully vaccinated but has tested positive for COVID-19, skipped Tuesday’s meeting to quarantine and recuperate at home from his breakthrough infection.
About 96% of the COVID victims who died in August were unvaccinated, Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong told reporters Friday. The small fraction who were vaccinated had serious underlying medical conditions, Chinsio-Kwong said.
The county had 2,043,693 fully vaccinated residents out of its 3.2 million population, according to data released last week.
That number includes 1,908,595 who have received the two-dose regimen of vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna and 135,098 who have received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. There are 288,020 residents who have received one dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
The county’s vaccination rate has picked up some of late, officials say. According to the OCHCA, the largest distributor of inoculations is the agency at 27.40%. CVS has dispensed the second most in Orange County at 18%. Walgreens has doled out 5.9% of the shots, just ahead of Kaiser Permanente at 5.7% and UC Irvine Health at 2.8%.
Walmart has inoculated 1.8% of Orange County residents, Safeway, Vons and Pavilions have doled out 1.10% of shots and the Families Together of Orange County has dispensed 1.1% of shots. All other health care providers were under 1%.
The county’s case rate for fully vaccinated residents as of Sept. 4, the latest figures available, was 4.4 per 100,000, but 26 per 100,000 for the unvaccinated.