Orange County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations increased, according to the latest statistics, but the number of intensive care unit patients declined.

The number of coronavirus patients in county hospitals increased from 311 Tuesday to 326, with the number of patients in intensive care falling from 95 to 85, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. The last time ICU levels were this low was Aug. 8.

The county has 20.8% of its ICU beds available and 65% of its ventilators.

“Today, they went up by a noticeable amount,” Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, said of the hospitalizations. “But, honestly, I’m not that worried about it yet. The hospital number is lower than anytime last week, so you have to calibrate the yard sticks a little bit. We’re still looking good.”

Noymer noted, “The percent positive is staying down. In general, I am going to keep an eye on hospital numbers, but in general we’re OK.”

Weekly averages, released on Tuesdays, showed that the county’s weekly case rate per 100,000 residents improved from 15.3 last week to 11.3, while the positivity rate fell from 4.7% to 3.7%.

The county’s Health Equity Quartile positivity rate — which measures progress in low-income communities — dropped from 5.1% to 4.2%.

The county logged eight more fatalities Wednesday, six of which occurred this month. The September death toll rose to 33. One of the fatalities was in April and another happened in June.

The cumulative death toll is 5,363.

The death toll for August stands at 135. That’s a stark contract with the rest of the summer. The death toll for July was 22, with 19 in June, 23 in May, 46 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 259 new infections Wednesday, raising the cumulative total to 294,567 since the pandemic began.

The number of fully vaccinated residents in the county increased from 2,043,693 the previous week to 2,069,128 as of last 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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