Orange County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to decline Sunday, offering more indication that the summer surge fueled by the Delta variant has peaked.

The number of coronavirus patients in county hospitals fell from 348 Saturday to 320, while the number of COVID patients in intensive care increased from 101 to 107, according to state figures.

“Basically, we’re looking pretty good,” Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, told City News Service on Friday. “We’re as good as we expected to be, but I’d like to see lower still. I hope we’re not finding a floor of 350 hospitalizations. I’m not a zero-COVID advocate. I don’t think we’re going to see zero COVID hospitalizations any time soon, but the numbers do look good to me and the percent positivity is down, which suggests we should find a lower floor sometime next week.”

Noymer was disappointed that a U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel rejected a plan for proposed booster shots to the general public 16 and older.

“I’m in favor of boosters, so this is a big disappointment,” Noymer said. “I don’t know why they’re being so cautious, honestly. I’m kind of shocked actually.”

Weekly averages, 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%.

The county had 20.7% of its ICU beds available and 64% of its ventilators, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The county logged seven more COVID-related deaths Friday, raising the cumulative total to 5,344. Six of the fatalities occurred in September, raising the death toll for this month to 18 so far. One other fatality occurred in August, raising the death toll for last month to 133.

The OCHCA also reported 394 new infections Friday, raising the cumulative total to 292,844 since the pandemic began. The agency does not report COVID data on weekends.

The number of fully vaccinated residents in the county increased from 2,043,693 the previous eek to 2,069,128 as of Thursday. That number includes an increase from 1,908,595 to 1,932,614 of residents who have received the two-dose regimen of vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna. The number of residents receiving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine increased from 135,098 to 136,514.

There are 220,138 residents who have received one dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

The county’s case rate for fully vaccinated residents as of Sept. 11, the latest figures available, was 4 per 100,000, but 22.9 per 100,000 for the unvaccinated.

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