SANTA ANA (CNS) — Orange County Friday logged 107 more COVID-19 fatalities, a record number in a single batch of death reports, which raised total deaths for the pandemic to 2,975.
What You Need To Know
- The county logged 1,460 new coronavirus cases on Friday, upping the cumulative total to 229,757
- Hospitalization rates, however, continued a downward trend on Friday
- The number of patients hospitalized due to the virus declined from 1,592 Thursday to 1,521 Friday
- The number of patients in intensive care units declining from 439 to 426
The death reports are staggered because they come from a variety of sources and are not always logged immediately, but the batch of reports logged Friday pushed the death toll for December to 801, far and away the county's deadliest month. The death toll for January is 475.
The deadliest day of the pandemic for the county is Jan. 3, when 53 people succumbed to coronavirus. The runner-up was Christmas Day, when 51 people died of COVID-19-related conditions.
Of the fatalities reported, 15 were skilled nursing facility residents, pushing the cumulative to 827, and 11 were assisted living facility residents, raising that total to 321.
The post-holidays death tolls offer a marked contrast to November, when the virus killed 164 in the county.
Andrew Noymer, a UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, said at the rate of the past week, it would take 17 days for the county's death toll to reach 4,000.
"That's not a firm prediction that I'd take to the bank," Noymer said. "But you can't keep having these days when you have 107 deaths (logged). We've had 428 (logged) in the last seven days."
The county has added 350 deaths since Sunday. Last week the county reported 305 deaths.
"We could exceed 3,000 as early as tomorrow," Noymer said of the cumulative death toll for the county.
The county is getting to the point in which one in 1,000 residents will die from COVID-19, Noymer said.
Hospitalization rates, however, continued a downward trend on Friday.
The number of patients hospitalized due to the virus declined from 1,592 Thursday to 1,521 Friday with the number of patients in intensive care units dropping from 439 to 426.
The county's state-adjusted ICU bed availability remains at zero, and the unadjusted figure increased from 8.5% Thursday to 10.1% Friday.
The state created the adjusted metric to reflect the difference in beds available for COVID-19 patients and non-coronavirus patients. The county has 43% of its ventilators available.
Noymer was encouraged about the news of a new coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is close to authorization. Noymer said it appears vaccinations, which are being done more quickly in Israel are showing some effectiveness there.
"But the epidemic isn't slamming on the brakes on Israel," Noymer said. "It's slowing down."
Orange County CEO Frank Kim said he was "obviously concerned" that the county had to shut down its vaccination site at Disneyland because of the storm, but said it will reopen on Saturday and that vaccines were being doled out at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, which is an indoor site.
Kim said he was frustrated that officials don't have a long-term view of when vaccines will arrive.
"We need an estimate two weeks out," Kim said. "That would address a lot of concerns people have. We can't schedule beyond two or three days out."
Kim said hospitals are also ramping up inoculations.
The county logged 1,460 new coronavirus cases on Friday, upping the cumulative total to 229,757.
The Orange County Health Care Agency reported 21,584 tests on Friday, for a total of 2,643,414.
The outbreak in the county's jails has continued to decline with the number of infected inmates dropping from 32 on Thursday to 28 on Friday. Authorities were awaiting results of 259 tests. Two inmates remain hospitalized.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter Wilson on Friday gave sheriff's officials another two weeks to reduce the jail population enough to provide physical distancing for inmates in congregant housing.
If sheriff's officials cannot provide satisfactory physical distancing, then a special master may be appointed by Wilson to determine which inmates can be released on some level or another, including home confinement or on GPS monitoring.
"He gave us the opportunity to work it out one more time," said attorney Kevin Dunn of the county counsel's office.
Previously, Wilson had indicated he wanted to halve the jail population from the level it was at in March. But on Friday, Wilson said he would not peg the percentage of release of inmates to any certain amount anymore, Dunn said.
"It appears there's some recognition there needs to be flexibility," Dunn said. "Part of that is you have populations now being vaccinated and some who have been exposed, so there are different dynamics."
Outbreaks — defined as at least two cases over the past two weeks — were reported in 26 skilled nursing facilities and 37 elderly assisted living facilities in the county as of Friday.
Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa — which was set up to handle overflow from local hospitals — is treating 30 patients, 20 from Orange County, seven from Los Angeles County, two from Riverside County and one San Bernardino County.