The number of COVID-positive patients in Orange County hospitals decreased by one person to 1,162, according to the latest state figures.
The number of those patients in intensive care rose to 204, up from 199 on Saturday.
The county’s percentage of available ICU beds dropped from 19.4% Thursday to 17.5% Friday, while the number of available ventilators was at 60.6%, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. Health officials get concerned when the percentage of ICU beds drops below 20%.
The county reported 11,020 new positive COVID-19 tests Friday, raising the cumulative total since the pandemic started to 477,127. The county logged seven more fatalities, upping the cumulative death toll to 5,953.
The OCHCA does not report COVID data on weekends.
Of those hospitalized, 85% are unvaccinated, and 87% of the ICU patients are not inoculated.
COVID-positive hospitalizations have not been this high since early February of last year, when there were 1,164 COVID-19 patients on Feb. 5.
Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, told City News Service on Friday that the data show “continued improvement, and we may have turned the corner.”
Noymer, however, added, “It’s a little tricky to call it for sure, but it looks like we’ve found a peak, but COVID is littered with premature congratulations … Everything is smelling like roses, which is a good thing with Valentine’s Day coming up.”
Orange County CEO Frank Kim told City News Service there were encouraging signs in the case rates.
Kim said that by looking at case episode dates, the peak was Jan. 3 or 4, when the average was about 10,000 cases daily.
“In the last week, we’ve been averaging 5,000 to 7,000 cases,” he said. “So we’re coming out of that early January peak … and here we are at Jan. 21 and the numbers are falling off.”
The county’s adjusted daily case rate per 100,000 residents dipped from 200 Thursday to 197.1 Friday. The testing positivity rate inched down from 27.4% to 26.5%, and edged down from 31.5% to 29.5% in the health equity quartile, which measures underserved communities hardest hit by the pandemic.