Orange County’s COVID-19 infection rates have ticked up, but hospitalizations remain at levels not seen since July of last year, according to data released Friday by the Orange County Health Care Agency.
The case rate per 100,000 people increased from 3.4 to 4.5 in the county’s most recent figures, with the positivity rates inching up from 1.9% to 2.3% overall and remaining at 2% in the health equity quartile, which reflects those in needy communities hardest hit by the virus.
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.
The week started with COVID-19 hospitalizations at 86 on Monday, but by Thursday it was down to 67 patients. The number of intensive care unit patients dropped from 16 on Monday to 13 Thursday.
The county logged 711 more infections and 21 more fatalities, increasing the cumulative figures in each category to 549,429 and 6,958 respectively.
April’s death toll rose to seven so far. Another 10 of the fatalities occurred in March, increasing last month’s death toll to 71.
Three of the fatalities occurred in February, increasing that month’s death toll to 315. Two others happened in January, raising that month’s death toll to 548.
Of those hospitalized with the virus, 84.2% are unvaccinated while 86.5% of those in intensive care are unvaccinated, according to the OCHCA. The county has 26% of its ICU beds available, comfortably above the 20% when experts get concerned.
The county’s vaccination data has been in flux as the state is now merging county-by-county data bases with the state’s information.
The number of vaccines administered in Orange County actually dropped from 2,452,863 to 2,286,755, according to data updated on Friday. That number includes a decrease from 2,296,678 to 2,145,793 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 decreased from 156,185 to 140,962.
Booster shots increased from 1,244,133 to 1,256,257 this week.
In the most recently eligible age group of 5 to 11 years old, the number of children vaccinated increased from 86,893 to 87,610, versus 180,970 who have not been vaccinated. It’s the least vaccinated age group in Orange County.
Orange County CEO Frank Kim told City News Service it’s not entirely clear why there has been a fluctuation in the data.
“We don’t know 100% why,” he said.
But officials suspect it may have to do with an improved accounting of how many people were inoculated in Orange County, but lived elsewhere, Kim said. It is also possible that some residents got inoculated once in Orange County and got another shot outside the county, he added.
In any event, Orange County is among the most inoculated counties, Kim said.
“All of the larger counties are doing pretty well — in the 75% to 80% range,” Kim said. “Our vaccination rate over 55 is really good, and for 65 or older it’s near 100%.”