Hospital Doctors - Photo courtesy of the National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Orange County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have topped 200 as infection rates continue rising again, according to the latest figures released by the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 increased from 196 on Friday to 209 on Monday, with the number of patients in intensive care dropping from 31 to 26.

The county has 31.1% of its ICU beds available, well above the 20% level when officials become concerned. Of those hospitalized, 83.3% are unvaccinated, and of the ICU patients 86.8% are unvaccinated.

The county’s testing positivity rate has increased from 14% last week to 15.3%, and ticked up from 14.5% to 14.6% in the health equity quartile, which measures the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

The county’s daily case rate per 100,000 people is 30.8 on a seven-day average with a seven-day lag, and 29.7 for the adjusted rate, also with a seven-day average and seven-day lag.

Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, has told City News Service that he will be concerned when hospitalizations exceed 200.

“I don’t like to see that, and I don’t like to see ICUs creeping up either,” Noymer said Tuesday.

“It’s not a crisis or anything like that, but it’s not moving in the right direction,” Noymer said. “It was looking like we were finding a peak, which is good because then it’s going to start going back down, but it may have been a false peak.”

The county logged 3,688 more infections Friday through Monday, raising the cumulative case count to 600,229. The county also logged six more fatalities, raising the death toll to 7,091.

One of the fatalities occurred in February, raising its death toll to 339. Another two occurred in January, increasing its death toll to 562.

Two of the deaths occurred in December, increasing its death toll to 117. Another fatality occurred in November, boosting its death toll to 122.

The death toll for June stands at 15. May’s death toll stands at 32, April’s at 33 and March’s at 87.

The OCHCA provides regular COVID updates on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The case rate per 100,000 people for fully vaccinated residents who have received a vaccine booster decreased from 36.9 as of June 12 to 28.8 as of June 19, the latest data available show. The case rate for residents fully vaccinated with no booster went from 20.9 to 17 and the case rate for residents not fully vaccinated went from 32.5 to 27.

The number of vaccines administered in Orange County increased from 2,324,587 to 2,326,588, according to Tuesday’s data. That number includes an increase from 2,185,776 to 2,187,900 residents who have received the two-dose regimen of vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna.

Noymer encouraged anyone eligible for a booster shot to do so.

“I think everyone eligible for a third shot should have the third shot by now,” Noymer said.

For those eligible for a fourth shot, Noymer advised waiting for the fall. Authorities are expected to approve a booster designed to combat the Omicron variant soon, but anyone eligible for a booster now shouldn’t wait as they can also get the Omicron-variant dose later as well, Noymer said.

The number of residents receiving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine decreased from 138,811 to 138,688 as officials continue to adjust to a new accounting of shots administered in the counties across California.

Booster shots increased from 1,329,788 to 1,335,414.

In the age group of 5 to 11 years old, the number of children vaccinated increased from 92,210 to 92,483 versus 176,097 who have not been vaccinated.

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