The number of coronavirus patients in Orange County hospitals dropped by 26 to 320, according to the latest state data released Saturday.

Of those patients, 35 were being treated in intensive care, up from 29 the previous day.

Overall, Orange County’s COVID-19 metrics remained relatively stable again this week, but 32 more fatalities were logged, the Orange County Health Care Agency said.

The agency also reported 3,195 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, hiking the cumulative total to 700,624. The latest fatalities increased the death toll to 7,706.

The test positivity rate went from 13% to 15.1% and decreased from 13.7% to 13.6% in the health equity quartile, which measures the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

The daily case rate per 100,000 decreased from 14.1 to 13.7 on a seven-day average with a seven-day lag, and went from 15 to 15.1 in the adjusted daily case rate per 100,000 on a seven-day average with a seven-day lag.

The OCHCA reports COVID data every Thursday.

Of those hospitalized in the county, 64.4% are unvaccinated or partly vaccinated. The ICU patients are 65.8% partly or unvaccinated.

The positivity rate for those fully vaccinated with a booster, which was 17.9 on Dec. 25, remained the same on Jan. 1. For those vaccinated with no booster, the rate went from 9.7 to 10.4. For those not vaccinated the rate went from 13.6 to 14.4, according to the OCHCA.

Andrew Noymer, a UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, told City News Service that a new strain of Omicron — XBB — has started surfacing in Orange County and that variant is more vaccine evasive.

“Whether or not that drives a major wave remains to be seen,” Noymer said. “That’s something I’m keeping an eye on.”

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