Hospital - Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Orange County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations are down to levels not seen since the end of last June, before the Delta variant spurred a summer surge, according to the latest data released by the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Hospitalizations were down from 67 on Thursday, the last date data was released by the county, to 60. The number of intensive care unit patients was down to 10. The county has 31.6% of its intensive care unit beds available, well above the 20% level when officials get concerned.

The county logged eight more COVID-related fatalities, raising the cumulative death toll to 6,966. The county also logged 772 infections since Friday, raising the cumulative total to 550,201.

One of the fatalities occurred April 7, raising the month’s death toll so far to eight. Five of the fatalities occurred in March, raising last month’s death toll to 76.

One fatality occurred in February, increasing that month’s death toll to 316. And another death happened in January, raising that month’s death toll to 549.

The case rate per 100,000 people increased from 4.5 Friday to 4.6 as of Tuesday in the county’s most recent figures, with the positivity rates inching up from 2.3% to 2.4% overall and ticking down from 2% to 1.9% in the health equity quartile, which reflects those in needy communities hardest hit by the virus.

The case rate per 100,000 people fully vaccinated with a booster shot decreased from 5.6 on April 8 to 4.7 on April 15, the latest data available. The rate for those vaccinated without a booster went from 3 on April 8 to 2.7 on April 15. For those not fully vaccinated, the rate decreased from 5.4 to 4.4.

Of those hospitalized, 84.2% are unvaccinated and 86.5% of those in intensive care have not gotten a shot. The county’s vaccination data has been in flux as the state is now merging county-by-county databases 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%.”

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