Hospital
Hospital - Photo courtesy of Robert Linder on Unsplash

Orange County reported 3,790 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, in numbers that cover the last three days.

The county also logged eight additional deaths associated with the virus, bringing its cumulative totals to 637,013 cases and 7,203 fatalities since the pandemic began, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus patients in OC hospitals dropped by 12 people to 338, according to the latest state figures released Friday. Of those patients, 49 were being treated in intensive care, up from 48 the previous day.

Officials cannot determine how many of the hospitalized patients were admitted directly for COVID-19 or tested positive while being treated for another ailment.

The county has 24.2% of its adult ICU beds available. Officials become concerned if that level falls below 20%.

The county’s testing positivity rate increased from 19.3% a week ago to 19.6%, and rose from 20.7% to 22.4% 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 38.7 on a seven-day average with a seven-day lag, and 35.6 for the adjusted rate, also with a seven-day average and seven-day lag.

Earlier this week, a plan to quickly scale up staffing for any potential future surges of COVID-19 patients in hospitals and other needed services was approved by the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

The board approved private contracts to provide staffing if large pods need to be set up to dispense modified vaccines or erect tents at hospitals to cover an overflow of patients as has happened in previous surges during the pandemic. County staff was taxed too much in prior surges, Orange County CEO Frank Kim said.

“We have the capacity to step up,” Kim told City News Service. “If we have to do a huge response to staff mass pods again we can’t do it with county staff again.”

The contracts allow for the staffing through June 2024, Kim said.

Despite the highly contagious Omicron variant-driven surge the county is in, Kim said he was not concerned about the ability of hospitals to handle the increase in patients.

“Eighty percent of the population is vaccinated,” Kim said. “And we know the feds are working on approving modified vaccines that address Omicron. We’ll see if it’s necessary.”

The OCHCA provides regular COVID updates on Tuesdays and Fridays.

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