Covid Doctor - photo courtesy of Pexels

The number of COVID-positive patients in Orange County hospitals has increased by five people to 118, with 15 being treated in intensive care, up two from Friday’s total, according to the latest state numbers out Saturday.

Those figures come as the county’s coronavirus transmission rate continues to 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.

Health officials have said that the majority of people who die of COVID complications have underlying conditions, mainly hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

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.

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 OCHCA does not report COVID data on weekends.

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