Orange County’s COVID Infections, Hospitalizations Climbing

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The number of COVID-positive patients at Orange County hospitals has risen by five people to 118, of whom 15 are being treated in intensive care, two more than Friday, according to the latest state figures.

Those numbers come as the county’s coronavirus transmission rate continues to rise. According to the Orange County Health Care Agency, Orange County’s daily case rate per 100,000 residents rose from 14.7 on Monday to 16.5 on Friday for the seven-day average with a seven-day lag and from 10 to 11.1 for the adjusted rate with an average of seven days and a lag of seven days.

The test positivity rate rose from 4.4% to 5% overall and from 2% to 2.2% in the health equity quartile, which measures the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

The county recorded 2,814 more infections Monday through Thursday, bringing the cumulative case count to 563,962. The OCHCA also reported five more deaths, bringing the total death toll to 7,028. All of the deaths occurred this month, with the most recent on Saturday.

Health officials have said the majority of people who die from COVID complications have underlying conditions, mainly high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

The county’s patient burden had fallen into the 60s in mid-April, standing at 89 on Monday but rising to 112 by Tuesday.

“I was concerned when we went from 83 to 89 patients,” Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, told the City News Service on Friday.

“We’re still in a small uptrend, but I won’t consider a big wave until we surpass 200,” Noymer said. “We’re just treading water here. … It’s really difficult to predict where this is going. Many people test at home and many cases are milder.”

According to OCHCA, 83.4% of hospitalized patients are unvaccinated and 86.6% of ICU patients are unvaccinated.

The county has 27.3% of its ICU beds available, well above the 20% rate when officials are concerned.

Noymer said he “strongly recommends” wearing a mask in shops and indoor events, as well as at outdoor events with large crowds.

The case rate per 100,000 population for fully vaccinated residents who received a booster shot increased from 17.6. on May 7th to May 18th. on May 14, according to the latest available data. The case rate in fully vaccinated residents without a booster shot increased from 9.8 to 11.1, and the case rate in not fully vaccinated residents increased from 14.2 to 16.5.

The OCHCA is not reporting COVID data over the weekend.