Orange County’s COVID-19 hospitalization number declined Friday, again falling under 200 patients.

Hospitalizations declined from 200 Thursday to 190 Friday, with the number of intensive care unit patients increasing from 42 to 43, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. There were 175 hospitalized patients in Orange County on Monday.

The county had 20.5% of its ICU beds available and 72% of its ventilators as of Friday.

Hospitalizations began rising the past few days, following a steady downward slide since late last month.

Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, the county’s deputy county health officer, told reporters on Friday that Orange County’s case rates still continue to gradually decline.

“Case rates are gradually declining, very gradually declining,” Chinsio-Kwong said. “We’re slowly getting out of this previous surge.”

This is in contrast to previous surges during the pandemic when infection rates would fall off markedly, she said.

Chinsio-Kwong noted that some people infected with the virus don’t get sick enough for a hospital until a few weeks later.

“For some people it takes more time to fall really ill with symptoms,” she said.

Three children were hospitalized in intensive care at Children’s Hospital of Orange County earlier this week, Chinsio-Kwong said.

As of Oct. 16, the county’s new case rate per 100,000 vaccinated residents was 2.7, down from 3.1 on Oct. 9. The rate among unvaccinated residents dipped from 14.6 per 100,000 to 13.7.

The number of fully vaccinated residents in Orange County increased from 2,147,048 last Thursday to 2,162,820 this week.

That number includes an increase from 2,005,340 to 2,019,902 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 141,708 to 142,918.

There are 190,068 residents who have received one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

About 79% of the county’s residents eligible to receive a vaccine have gotten at least one shot and about 73% are fully vaccinated, Chinsio-Kwong said. When factoring in children younger than 12, 63% of the county is fully vaccinated and 68% have received at least one shot, she added.

The top providers of vaccines are the OCHCA at 26.20%, CVS at 18.4%, Walgreens at 6.2%, Kaiser Permanente at 5.4%, UC Irvine Health at 2.7%; Walmart at 1.9%, Safeway, Vons and Pavilions at 1.2%; Families Together of Orange County at 1.1%, and multiple others below 1%.

The county’s overall weekly COVID case rate per 100,000 residents, which is released on Tuesdays, improved from 7 to 6.6 this week, while the testing-positivity rate fell from 2.7% to 2.5%. The county’s Health Equity Quartile positivity rate — which measures progress in low-income communities — dropped from 3% to 2.5%.

The county also reported 104 new infections and logged 12 more deaths Friday, raising the cumulative totals to 302,735 cases and 5,562 deaths since the pandemic began.

Nearly all of the people who died in September were unvaccinated, Chinsio-Kwong said.

“Over the last couple of months the majority were unvaccinated, well over 90%,” she said. In October, all of the victims who died from the virus were unvaccinated, she said.

Of the deaths reported Friday, three occurred this month, raising the death toll for October to 15.

Five occurred in September, hiking the death toll last month to 162. The August death toll stands at 172. One occurred in March.

In contrast, the death toll before the more contagious Delta variant-fueled surge was 29 in July, 19 for June, 26 for May, 46 for April, 200 for March, 615 for February, 1,585 for January — the deadliest month of the pandemic — and 976 for December, the next deadliest.

Most of those who died in September were unvaccinated, and the same trend is true for those who are hospitalized, Chinsio-Kwong, the county’s deputy county health officer, said last week.

Chinsio-Kwong again encouraged residents to get flu and COVID-19 shots, stressing it is safe to get both.

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