Hospital Hall - Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Orange County saw another jump in COVID-19 hospitalizations, but the number remained at the lowest levels since early July, as tests show the new, more contagious Omicron subvariant BA.2 being sequenced locally, according to data released Thursday by the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Hospitalizations increased from 67 Tuesday to 78 Wednesday, with the number of intensive care unit patients increasing from 11 to 16.

Of those hospitalized with the virus, 84.1% are unvaccinated while 86.4% of those in intensive care are unvaccinated, according to the OCHCA. The county has 28.5% of its ICU beds available, comfortably above the 20% when experts get concerned.

The case rate per 100,000 people remained at 3.5 with the positivity rates also staying at 1.9% overall and in the health equity quartile, which reflects those in needy communities hardest hit by the virus, according to the OCHCA.

The case rate per 100,000 people for fully vaccinated residents who received a booster shot increased from 3.7 on March 26 to 4.5 on April 2, the most recent figures available. For residents who were fully vaccinated without a booster the rate decreased from 2.8 on March 26 to 2.6 on April 2. And for those not fully vaccinated the rate went up from 4.1 on March 26 to 4.3 on April 2.

About 4,000 more people received vaccines since last week, according to OCHCA.

There were 142 new infections diagnosed, raising the cumulative to 547,935 since the pandemic began. Nine more fatalities were logged, increasing the cumulative to 6,919, with the deaths spread out over the past several months with one dating back to February of last year.

Four of the fatalities occurred in March, increasing last month’s death toll to 49. Two of the fatalities occurred in February, increasing that month’s death toll to 309. And two of the fatalities occurred in November, increasing that month’s death toll to 120.

January’s death toll stands at 544.

With neighboring Los Angeles County reporting a rise in cases attributed to the highly contagious BA.2 subvariant of the virus, Orange County’s chief health officer encouraged residents to get vaccinated.

“If they (Los Angeles County) start seeing cases rise, there might be a possibility we see a rise as well,” Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong said at a news conference Tuesday.

The number of fully vaccinated residents in Orange County rose from 2,448,788 last week to 2,452,863 this week, according to data released Wednesday.

That number includes an increase from 2,292,327 to 2,296,678 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 156,185.

Booster shots increased from 1,234,473 last week to 1,244,133 this week.

In the most recently eligible age group of 5 to 11 years old, the number of children vaccinated increased from 86,022 to 86,893, versus 181,687, who have not been vaccinated. It’s the least vaccinated age group in Orange County.

Chinsio-Kwong said 37% of children 5 to 11 have gotten at least one dose and 32% are fully vaccinated. In the 12-17 age group, 72% have gotten at least one dose and 66.7% are fully vaccinated. Among those 65 and older, 99% have gotten at least one dose and 92.6% are fully vaccinated.

“We still need a lot of help to get younger children vaccinated,” Chinsio-Kwong said. “We encourage parents to talk to their pediatrician and healthcare providers to consider vaccination.”

Chinsio-Kwong said that while children are at lower risk of contracting severe illness many are not wearing masks at school anymore and are “engaging in high-risk activities.”

Even though the federal government will no longer provide free tests and vaccines, the county will continue to do so at its sites for the time being, Chinsio-Kwong said.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.