Hospital - Photo courtesy of Hush Naidoo Jade on Unsplash

Orange County’s COVID-19’s hospitalizations and infection rates continued to rise, according to data released Tuesday by the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Hospitalizations increased from 112 on Saturday to 126 on Sunday and 131 as of Monday, the latest figures available. There were 22 intensive care unit patients on Sunday and 20 as of Monday, according to the agency.

The county has 30.4% of its ICU beds available, well above the 20% level when officials get concerned.

Some of those hospital cases may be what officials call “incidental” as they are patients who were admitted to be treated for another malady and tested positive. It’s unclear what the ratio is.

“If you come into the hospital for tennis elbow and they test you then you’re part of the count,” said Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention.

“But I am concerned about 131 patients and going up,” Noymer told City News Service. “I have previously said 200 would be a new wave and I’m standing by that.”

Noymer said the ICU numbers have not gone up markedly.

“Twenty in the ICU, and that’s also up, but it’s low by comparison,” Noymer said.

“On the East Coast we’re already seeing their spring wave go down, thankfully, so hopefully our wave won’t be prolonged,” he said. “I’m not pulling my hair out about this, but it’s not great.”

Noymer was concerned about the infection rate.

The testing positivity rate went from 5% overall on Friday to 5.5% as of Tuesday.

“That’s too high,” Noymer said.

The rate went from 2.2% to 2.4% in the health equity quartile, which measures the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

The daily case rate per 100,000 people in Orange County increased from 16.5 Friday to 18.3 as of Tuesday on a seven-day average with seven-day lag, and from 11.1 to 13.7 for the adjusted rate with a seven-day average and seven-day lag.

The county logged 2,440 more infections from Friday through Monday, raising the cumulative case count to 566,402. The agency also logged two more fatalities, increasing the overall death toll to 7,030, but those fatalities occurred in December 2020 and October 2021.

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

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 is six, while last month’s death toll is 30, March’s is 86, February’s is 330, January’s is 554, and December’s is 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 2,313,029 last week to 2,315,464, according to Tuesday’s data.

That number includes an increase from 2,172,777 to 2,175,562 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 140,252 to 139,902 as officials continue to adjust to a new accounting of shots administered in the counties across the state.

Booster shots increased from 1,279,272 to 1,283,905.

In the most recently eligible age group of 5 to 11 years old, the number of children vaccinated increased from 90,557 to 90,917, versus 177,663, who have not been vaccinated. It’s the least-vaccinated age group in Orange County.

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