Orange County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations continued a gradual descent as 21 more fatalities were logged since Friday, according to Orange County Health Care Agency figures 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 agency, 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.
“The hospital numbers are looking a little stalled,” Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, told City News Service.
“The hospitalizations don’t seem to want to go below 300. We’ve been above 300 since Aug. 1… I don’t doubt it will be in the 200s, but it would be nicer to see a faster decline, but that’s better than an increase.
“Scientifically, there’s little difference between 300 or 298, but I would just love to see the numbers in the 200s again. Indeed, I would like to see numbers in the teens.”
Orange County CEO Frank Kim said the county was seeing a “continued decline in testing positivity.”
“We do feel this last wave is coming toward an end,” Kim said.
Kim noted there has also been a slight increase in vaccination rates.
Of the fatalities logged on Monday, 14 occurred in September and the other seven in August.
The death toll for September is 53 and 155 for August.
That marks a stark contrast with the rest of the summer. The death toll for July was 22, 19 for June, 23 for May, 46 for April, 199 for March, 615 for February, 1,580 for January — the deadliest month of the pandemic — and 976 for 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,” Chinsio-Kwong said.
Eight of the people who died from COVID-19 in August 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 the 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.