Orange County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations continued a gradual descent as 21 more fatalities were logged since Friday, all of which occurred this month and last, according to Orange County Health Care Agency data released Monday.
The number of hospitalized patients dropped from 308 on Friday to 300 on Monday, with the number of intensive care patients increasing from 76 to 80, according to the OC HCA, which does not post statistics on Saturdays and Sundays.
The county has 28% of its ICU beds available and 66% of its ventilators.
The last time hospitalizations were at this level was the end of July.
Of the fatalities logged on Monday, 14 happened this month and the rest in August.
The death toll for this month increased to 53, and fatalities in August rose to 155.
That marks a stark contrast 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, 1,580 in January — the deadliest month of the pandemic — and 976 in December, the next deadliest.
Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, deputy county health officer, said Friday that 94% of the people who died in August were unvaccinated.
Without vaccines the death toll from this summer’s surge, which was fueled by the more contagious Delta variant, would have been higher, Chinsio-Kwong said.
“We could have been losing more people to Delta if we didn’t have the vaccination rates we have,” she said.
Chinsio-Kwong noted that the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has surpassed the death toll from the 1918-20 Spanish flu pandemic, which occurred when the U.S. population was about 106 million, slightly less than one-third of the 2020 figure of 331 million.
“In this day and age we expect with all the advances in technology and in medicine that we wouldn’t have such a devastating pandemic with such a devastating amount of people who have died,” she said.
Eight of the people who died from COVID-19 last month were vaccinated and at least 65 years old, Chinsio-Kwong said. Seven were older than 75 and one who was between 65 and 74 was in a skilled nursing facility, she added.
All Orange County residents who died from COVID-19 in September were not fully vaccinated, Chinsio-Kwong said. One had received one of two doses of Moderna vaccine and the others did not receive any doses, she added.
The county on Monday also logged another 1,470 infections, raising the cumulative to 296,697.
On Tuesday, the county will receive weekly averages from the state.
Weekly averages, released on Tuesdays, showed last week 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%.