The number of coronavirus patients in Orange County hospitals has fallen by six people to 188, with 49 of those patients in intensive care, up one from Saturday, according to the latest state figures released Sunday.
On Friday, the county reported 328 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths associated with the virus. That brought the county’s cumulative totals to 310,297 cases and 5,661 fatalities since the pandemic began, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
The OCHCA does not report new cases or deaths on weekends.
The county’s deputy health officer told reporters Friday that more than 22,000 OC children aged 5 to 11 got their first shots of COVID-19 vaccine in the last week. Between Nov. 8 and 15, 22,427 children in that newly eligible age group received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, said Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, the county’s deputy health officer.
Orange County’s averages for infections remained about the same as the previous week, according to weekly data released Tuesday by the OCHCA.
The county’s weekly COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 residents remained at 7.3, the same as last Tuesday, while the test-positivity rate stayed at 2.8%.
The county’s Health Equity Quartile positivity rate — which measures progress in low-income communities — inched down from 3% to 2.9%.
Chinsio-Kwong warned residents of a looming winter wave, spurred by holiday gatherings. She pointed to rising levels of infection in European countries such as the U.K., Germany and Austria, where the vaccination rates are higher than in the U.S.
“It should be a warning to everyone in the United States that they should protect themselves,” Chinsio-Kwong said. “This is not the time to be less careful. If anything, we have to be more careful.”
The doctor encouraged residents to get vaccinated.
“Vaccines are effective and they do reduce hospitalizations and death,” she said, pointing to the most recent study in the Pacific Northwest.
For the unvaccinated, death occurred seven more times often than for the inoculated, she said. The infection rate was three times higher, she added.
For parents uneasy about the timing of vaccine mandates for students, Chinsio-Kwong said they won’t be required until the shots are fully approved instead of the emergency use authorizations they have for kids younger than 16. That isn’t likely to happen until at least the summer of next year, so they would not be required until the 2022-23 school year at the earliest, she said.
The doctor advised residents be careful when gathering for Thanksgiving. It is best to have any get-togethers outdoors, but if they have to be indoors then the windows and doors should be opened to provide more ventilation, and getting vaccinated and using face coverings is advised, she said.
The county’s case rate per 100,000 for the fully vaccinated was at 3.2 as of Nov. 13, down from 3.6 on Nov. 6, according to the latest data available. The case rate for the unvaccinated was at 16.3, down from 18.2 during the same time period.
As of last Monday, 69% of the total population had received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, and 64% were fully vaccinated, Chinsio-Kwong said.