Orange County’s weekly COVID-19 infection rates ticked up while hospitalizations inched down, according to data released Tuesday by the Orange County Health Care Agency.
The county’s weekly COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 residents increased from 6.1 to 6.4, while the rate of people testing positive for the virus increased from to 2.4% to 3.3%.
The county’s Health Equity Quartile positivity rate — which measures progress in low-income communities — increased from 2.8% to 3.3%.
The number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 declined from 169 on Monday to 163 Tuesday, with the number of patients in intensive care decreasing from 57 to 53, according to the OCHCA.
The county also reported 306 new infections and 12 additional deaths associated with the virus Tuesday, raising its cumulative totals to 315,492 cases and 5,783 deaths.
One of those fatalities dates as far back as February. One occurred last month, raising November’s death toll to 60. Six of the fatalities happened in October, raising that month’s death toll to 120. Three of the fatalities occurred in September, raising that month’s death toll to 191. Another one happened in August, raising that month’s death toll to 178.
In contrast, the death toll before the more contagious Delta variant-fueled summer surge was 31 in July, 19 for June, 26 for May, 46 for April, 200 for March, 617 for February.
January 2021 remains the deadliest month of the pandemic with a death toll of 1,593, ahead of December 2020, the next deadliest at 984.
The county has 23.9% of its ICU beds and 70% of its ventilators available, according to the OCHCA.
The county’s case rate per 100,000 for the fully vaccinated was at 2.6 as of Nov. 27, down from 2.9 on Nov. 20, according to the latest data available. The case rate for the unvaccinated was at 12.7, down from 15.1, during the same time period.
The number of fully vaccinated residents in Orange County increased from 2,229,621 as of Nov. 24 to 2,242,235 as of Thursday.
That number includes an increase from 2,080,656 to 2,093,447 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 stands at 148,788.
Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, the county deputy health officer, said Friday that vaccinations have been picking up some velocity of late.
“As of Nov. 29, 513,000 either received a booster or an extra dose,” Chinsio-Kwong said. “We did see a pickup of vaccination following the Thanksgiving holiday.”
On Thursday, 23,000 doses were dispensed, “which is really assuring,” she said.
About 4,000 kids 5 to 11 years old received a dose on Thursday, she said. About 16% of those 5 to 11 years old have received at least one dose, the doctor said.
“So far, a good chunk of that is being done at pharmacies,” she said. “I’m really happy to see we did see a rise in demand for vaccines following the Thanksgiving holiday.”
Meanwhile, starting Wednesday, John Wayne Airport travelers will be able to get free COVID-19 test kits, officials announced.
Public health professionals have been encouraging all travelers to get tested in the hopes it will catch more infected people who can quarantine and help curb the spread of the virus.
“This is another example of the important work we have been doing throughout these past two years to protect our community during COVID,” County Supervisor Andrew Do said.