Orange County COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased by four with Orange County Health Care Agency officials expressing the belief that the Delta variant-fueled summer surge is receding.

The number of hospitalized patients grew from 279 Thursday to 283 Friday with the number of intensive care unit patients decreasing from 85 to 76. The numbers have not been this low since the end of July.

The county has 22.9% of its ICU beds available and 66% of its ventilators.

“I think hospitalizations are on a very slow descent,” Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, deputy county health officer, said in a conference call with reporters Friday.

“Overall, our case rates are coming down and our positivity so we’re going in the right direction.”

As of Sept. 25, the case rate per 100,000 residents for fully vaccinated residents was 3.6. It was 18.1 for the unvaccinated.

Chinsio-Kwong said vaccinations are on the rise, likely due to mandates from the state.

The number of fully vaccinated residents in Orange County increased from 2,096,177 Sept. 23 to 2,115,536 Thursday.

That number includes an increase from 1,958,145 to 1,976,227 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 138,032 to 139,309.

There are 197,514 residents who have received one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Orange County is 71% fully vaccinated among those 12 and older who are eligible for vaccine, Chinsio-Kwong said. Seventy-eight percent of the eligible population has received at least one dose, she added.

Including children who cannot get a vaccine, the county is 61% fully vaccinated, Chinsio-Kwong said.

“This is exciting news, but we still have a lot more to do,” she said.

The county also logged four additional fatalities Friday, raising its cumulative death toll to 5,436.

All of the deaths occurred in September, raising the month’s death toll to 73.

The death toll in August was 157.

That is a big jump from the trend this summer before the more contagious Delta variant took off.

The death toll for July is 26, 19 for June, 26 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.

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