SANTA ANA, Calif. (CNS) — Orange County's COVID-19 hospitalizations have continued a downward trend, along with case counts and positivity rates, according to data released Monday.
Last Monday the case rate per 100 was 14.7, but Monday it was down to 13.5, according to Orange County CEO Frank Kim. The positivity rate was at 4.7% and 5.1% with the health equity quartile, which measures the rates in the disadvantaged communities hardest hit by the pandemic, Kim said.
On Tuesday, the state will release its weekly averages. Last Tuesday, the county's average daily case rate per 100,000 residents dropped from 18.6 the prior week to 16, while the testing positivity rate fell from 6.8% to 5.4%.
The county's health equity quartile rate dropped from 7.3% to 5.8%.
Orange County's COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped from 426 on Friday to 406 on Monday, with the number of intensive care unit patients declining from 130 to 119, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency, which updates numbers Mondays through Fridays, but not on the weekends.
The county had 23.6% of its ICU beds available and 63% of its ventilators.
"Hospitalizations are down so that's nice to see," Kim said. "What you worry about is the state has indicated that 15 to 20% of cases could still result in hospitalizations, and we're still recording 1,500 infections over a three-day period, so 200 to 300 might end up in a hospital in the coming weeks. We hope that number continues to drop as more people are vaccinated because we hear that in general vaccinated individuals experience more mild symptoms (when there is a breakthrough infection)."
The county logged 10 more fatalities since Friday, raising the cumulative to 5,309.
Six of the fatalities occurred in August, raising that month's death toll to 116. One of the fatalities occurred in July, raising the death toll for that month to 21.
The first fatalities this month have been logged with two occurring on Sept. 1 and one on Sept. 2.
The death toll for June was just 17, 23 in May, 45 in April, 199 in March, 615 in February, 1,578 in January — the deadliest month of the pandemic — and 975 in December, the next deadliest.
The OCHCA also reported 1,583 new infections over Friday, Saturday and Sunday, raising the cumulative case count to 291,381.
The latest numbers come two days after health officials reported that a child under age 5 died due to complications from the virus, the county's second juvenile fatality associated with COVID-19.
Officials did not disclose the age or gender of the child but said there were underlying health conditions.
Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, a deputy county health officer, said Friday that officials were still working to contact the family and did not know any other details.
The county's other juvenile COVID-19 fatality occurred last August. The victim was a teenage girl with significant underlying medical conditions.
Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, who has worked to raise awareness of the highly contagious delta variant's impact on children in the county, said she was told the child had pre-existing conditions from birth and was infected by an adult.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Andrew Do said, "My heart goes out to the family ... We are all in this together. We all face the same risk, but whatever we can do to minimize the risk to each other is the responsible thing to do."
Do, meanwhile, told CNS that he tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday morning. Do, who was an early advocate of masking in the county and is fully vaccinated, said it appears he may have gotten the breakthrough infection at a housewarming party for extended family last week. When he was informed that someone at the party tested positive, Do went in for a test.
Do said he is coping OK with the symptoms. He is in quarantine so he will have to miss some work.
"That's a lot of work I'll miss," Do said, adding he will try to keep up working remotely. But, he added, "I'm an in-person kind of guy. I'm still old school that way."
About 96% of the COVID victims who died in August were unvaccinated, Chinsio-Kwong said. The small fraction who were vaccinated had serious underlying medical conditions, Chinsio-Kwong said.
The county has 2,043,693 fully vaccinated residents out of its 3.2 million population, according to data released on Thursday.
That number includes 1,908,595 who have received the two-dose regimen of vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna and 135,098, who have received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. There are 288,020 residents who have received at least one dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
The county's vaccination rate has picked up some of late, officials say. According to the OCHCA, the largest distributor of inoculations is the agency at 27.40%. CVS has dispensed the second most in Orange County at 18%. Walgreens has doled out 5.9% of the shots., just ahead of Kaiser Permanente at 5.7% and UC Irvine Health at 2.8%.
Walmart has inoculated 1.8% of Orange County residents, Safeway, Vons and Pavilions has doled out 1.10% of shots and the Families Together of Orange County has dispensed 1.10% of shots. All other healthcare providers were under 1%.
The county's case rate for fully vaccinated residents as of Sept. 4, the latest figures available, was 4.4 per 100,000, but 26 per 100,000 for the unvaccinated.