ICU patient and nurse
A nurse assists a coronavirus patient in an intensive care unit in Los Angeles. Image from LA County video

Orange County’s coronavirus transmission rate and the number of COVID-positive patients in local hospitals are both on the rise, according to data from the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The daily case rate per 100,000 people in Orange County increased from 14.7 Monday to 16.5 Friday on a seven-day average with seven-day lag, and from 10 to 11.1 for the adjusted rate with a seven-day average and seven-day lag.

The testing positivity rate went from 4.4% to 5% overall and from 2 to 2.2% in the health equity quartile, which measures the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

The county logged 2,814 more infections from Monday to Thursday, raising the cumulative case count to 563,962. The OCHCA also reported five additional fatalities, increasing the overall death toll to 7,028. All of the fatalities occurred this month, with the most recent one on Saturday.

The number of COVID patients in county hospitals was 113, with 13 of those patients being treated in intensive care.

The county’s patient loads had dropped into the 60s in mid-April and were at 89 Monday, but jumped to 112 by Tuesday.

“I was concerned when we went from 83 to 89 patients,” Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, told City News Service on Friday.

“We’re still in a little uptick, but I won’t consider a major wave until we exceed 200,” Noymer said. “We’re just sort of treading water here. … It’s really difficult to predict where this is going. A lot of people are testing at home and a lot of cases are milder.”

Of those hospitalized, 83.4% are unvaccinated, and 86.6% of ICU patients are not inoculated, according to the OCHCA.

The county has 27.3% of its ICU beds available, well above the 20% rate when officials get concerned.

Noymer said he “highly recommends” wearing a mask to stores and indoor events as well as outdoor events with large crowds.

May’s death toll now stands at six, while last month’s death toll stands at 30, March’s at 86, February’s at 330, January’s at 554, and December’s at 115.

The case rate per 100,000 people for fully vaccinated residents who have received a vaccine booster increased from 17.6 May 7 to 18.5 May 14, the latest data available show. The case rate for residents fully vaccinated with no booster went from 9.8 to 11.1, and the case rate for residents not fully vaccinated went from 14.2 to 16.5.

The number of vaccines administered in Orange County increased from 2,310,731 last week to 2,313,029 this week, according to Tuesday’s data.

That number includes an increase from 2,170,180 to 2,172,777 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 140,551 to 140,252 as officials continue to adjust to a new accounting of shots administered in the counties across the state.

Booster shots increased from 1,273,356 to 1,279,272.

In the most recently eligible age group of 5 to 11 years old, the number of children vaccinated increased from 90,228 to 90,557, versus 178,003 who have not been vaccinated. It’s the least-vaccinated age group in Orange County.

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