SANTA ANA, Calif. (CNS) — Orange County Thursday reported 40 more COVID-19 infections and two more virus-related deaths, as hospitalization rates ticked up.
The new infections upped the county's cumulative case count to 255,570, and the death toll edged up to 5,092.
Hospitalizations increased from 50 Wednesday to 53 Thursday, and the number of intensive care unit patients doubled from seven to 14.
Andrew Noymer, a UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, said the increase in hospitalizations should not be a concern.
"As beds become available, there's a temptation to use (the ICU beds)," Noymer told City News Service, adding that any surge that might have come from Memorial Day weekend activities would probably be evident at this point.
"I'm not expecting one at all," he said.
Noymer said he does not expect any surge when the state lifts more restrictions next week either.
"I have to doff my cap to (Gov. Gavin) Newsom and company," Noymer said. "When they announced a long time ago a June 15 reopening, it seemed so forward looking, but it's hard to argue with success. They gambled and they won."
The two fatalities logged Thursday occurred May 28 and 29. One was a skilled nursing facility resident, upping the total in that category since the pandemic began to 1,130, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
The new fatalities increased May's death toll to 16. There has been only one fatality reported so far this month.
April's death toll stands at 41; 185 for March; 588 in February, 1,553 for January, the deadliest month in the pandemic; and 960 for December, the next deadliest month.
The county is now focusing on mobile vaccination sites, Orange County CEO Frank Kim said.
"We had 22 mobile PODs last week," he said earlier this week.
At one shopping center in Irvine, the county had 200 appointments booked, and 160 showed up, Kim said. Another 80, however, arrived without an appointment and were inoculated, "so we did about 240 that day," he said.
Another 6,824 COVID-19 tests were reported Thursday, bringing the county's total to 3,993,911.
The county's weekly average of tests per 100,000 dropped from 233.1 last week to 210.1.
According to weekly state data released every Tuesday, the average for the county's daily case rate per 100,000 residents dropped from 0.9 to 0.8. The overall test positivity rate ticked up from 0.6% to 0.7%, and the county's Health Equity Quartile rate, which measures positivity in hot spots in disadvantaged communities, inched up from 0.7% to 0.8%.
Those numbers guaranteed the county will remain in the least restrictive yellow tier. Regardless, the state is getting ready to scrap its tier system for reopening the economy on June 15.
Orange County officially entered the least restrictive yellow tier of the reopening blueprint on May 19, which allowed for greater attendance for many businesses such as movie theaters and gyms, while museums, zoos and aquariums were allowed to open at full capacity.
For the first time, bars and distilleries were able to open indoors, and theme parks such as Disneyland could expand attendance.