Empty hospital example. Photo via Pixabay.

Orange County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations and positivity rates continue trending down, but another 51 COVID-related fatalities were added to last month’s death toll Tuesday.

The number of COVID-positive patients in county hospitals declined from 334 on Monday to 325 as of Tuesday, with the number of those patients in intensive care declining from 76 to 69, according to the latest state figures.

The Orange County Health Care Agency reported 760 new positive COVID tests and 55 additional deaths associated with the virus, bringing its cumulative totals to 535,935 cases and 6,505 fatalities. The agency does not update COVID data on weekends or holidays, so Tuesday was its first update since Friday.

The decline in patients following the Omicron variant-fueled surge started Jan. 18. The last time hospitalizations were this low was Dec. 27.

The county had 29.2% of its ICU beds available and 65.4% of its ventilators as of Tuesday. Local health officials become concerned when the level of ICU beds falls below 20%.

Of those hospitalized, 84% are unvaccinated and 86% in an intensive care unit are not inoculated, according to the OCHCA.

Of the deaths logged Tuesday, 51 occurred in January and four happened this month. The deadliest day so far this year was Jan. 21 when 25 people died from COVID-related symptoms.

The recently logged fatalities hiked up January’s death toll to 455, and February’s death toll so far to 66.

December’s death toll stands at 107, November’s at 112, October’s at 136, September’s at 199 and August’s at 186.

In contrast, the death toll before the Delta variant fueled a late-summer surge was 31 in July, 20 in June, 26 in May, 47 in April, 202 in March and 620 for February.

January 2021 remains the deadliest month of the pandemic, with a death toll of 1,600, ahead of December 2020, the next-deadliest with 986 people lost to the virus.

Of the deaths logged Tuesday, eight were skilled nursing facility residents, raising the number of dead in that category to 1,275, and one was an assisted living facility resident, increasing the death toll in that category to 669.

Outbreaks — defined as three or more infected residents — decreased from 13 to nine at assisted living facilities from Feb.14 to Feb. 18, the most recent data available, and dropped from 15 to 12 for skilled nursing facilities.

The county’s jails had 40 infected inmates Tuesday, down from 56 on Thursday, with the results of 192 tests pending.

The case rate per 100,000 people decreased from 22.3 on Friday to 17.3 Tuesday. The testing positivity rate dropped from 5.5% to 4.7%, and fell from 4% to 3.6% in the health equity quartile, which measures underserved communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

The case rate per 100,000 people decreased from 23.7 on Feb. 5 to 14.3 on Feb. 12 for those fully vaccinated with a booster shot; from 29.7 to 17.2 for those fully vaccinated with no booster; and 50.6 to 29.4 for those not fully vaccinated.

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