The number of coronavirus patients in Orange County hospitals dropped by nine people to 210, according to the latest state data released Saturday.

Of those patients, 27 were being treated in intensive care, down from 30 the previous day.

Hospitalizations of COVID-infected patients have been going up and down since a steady rise ended on Dec. 7.

“It’s steady as she goes,” Andrew Noymer, a UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, told City News Service. “I’m really happy to see things are continuing to be quite manageable. The worst statistic is the test positivity, which is another reminder that we still have COVID.”

Noymer said he was hoping the most recent variant, XBB.1.5, does not fuel another surge. There does not appear to be many cases emerging in Orange County, according to data released this week by the Orange County Health Care Agency.

“I want to see how much XBB.1.5 is rearing its ugly head,” Noymer said. “I’m anxiously waiting. We might just dodge a bullet, but who knows.”

The newest variant is more contagious and more efficient at evading vaccines.

The agency logged 23 more COVID-related fatalities on Thursday, increasing the death toll to 7,765. Of those hospitalized in the county, 63.5% are unvaccinated or partly vaccinated. The ICU patients are 64.7% partly or unvaccinated.

The test positivity rate went from 15.2% last week to 10.4% and decreased from 15.1% to 10.7% in the health equity quartile, which measures the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

The daily case rate per 100,000 went from 13.8 to 10.3 on a seven-day average with a seven-day lag, and went from 14.1 to 10.1 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.

The county logged 1,515 new cases of COVID-19, hiking the cumulative to 704,385.

The positivity rate for those fully vaccinated with a booster, which was 18 on Jan. 1, dropped to 13.1 on Jan. 8. For those vaccinated with no booster, the rate went from 10.8 to 7. For those not vaccinated the rate went from 14.1 to 10.9.

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