SANTA ANA, Calif. (CNS) — Orange County's number of COVID-19 hospitalizations jumped by nearly 20 more patients since Friday, and three more fatalities have been logged, according to data released Monday by the Orange County Health Care Agency.
Hospitalizations increased from 212 on Friday to 231 on Monday, with the number of intensive care patients ticking up from 54 to 56. The OCHCA does not update statistics on Saturdays and Sundays.
The county had 21.7% of its intensive care unit beds available and 68% of its ventilators as of Monday.
The county also reported 874 new infections for the three-day period since Friday, raising the cumulative to 307,521. The three fatalities increased the overall death toll to 5,618.
The hospital patient levels are part of a new normal, Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, told news sources on Friday.
"We're in a new normal now where we're right in the midst of a transition to endemicity," Noymer said. "We're moving out of the epidemic phase where everything is chaotic and moving to the epidemic phase where it's more like the flu."
Noymer said "200 people hospitalized is going to be the new normal for some time for COVID for Orange County."
Noymer said the inoculation of children age 5 to 11 will have an "indirect" impact on the pandemic.
"It's the right thing to do, but I don't think we'll see an immediate impact" on the rate of infections, Noymer said. "But I'm not expecting a huge decline in cases next week. It's more complicated than that."
Deputy county health officer Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong told reporters in a media call on Friday that she hopes children getting shots might encourage adults in their extended family to get inoculated.
"And, overall, it will reduce transmission and hopefully we'll be able to celebrate our winter holidays and get 2022 off on the right foot," Chinsio-Kwong said.
The number of fully vaccinated residents in Orange County increased from 2,177,053 on Oct. 28 to 2,190,754 last week.
That number includes an increase from 2,032,863 to 2,045,291 residents who have received the two-dose regimen of vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna. The number of residents receiving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine increased from 144,190 to 145,463.
There are 185,936 residents who have received one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
Children age 5 to 11 represent 8% of the county's population, Chinsio-Kwong said.
Orange County's weekly averages for COVID-19 cases and positivity rates ticked up last week after several weeks of gradual decline, according to data released Tuesday by the OCHCA.
The county's weekly COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 residents increased from 6 to 7.2, while the test-positivity rate ticked up from 2.3% to 2.5%.
The county's Health Equity Quartile positivity rate — which measures progress in low-income communities — inched up from 2.3% to 2.4%.
The case rate among the unvaccinated has seen a marked increase, and a slight increase among the vaccinated has also been detected, according to the OCHCA.
The case rate per 100,000 unvaccinated residents was 15.7 as of Oct. 23 and rose to 17.5 as of Oct. 30, the latest data available. For fully vaccinated residents it was 3.4 per 100,000 residents by Oct. 23 and 3.6 as of Oct. 30.
Two of the three deaths logged Monday occurred in October, raising last month's death toll to 63. One happened in July.
September's death toll stands at 167, close behind August's toll of 173.
In contrast, the death toll before the more contagious delta variant-fueled surge was 30 in July, 19 for June, 26 for May, 46 for April, 200 for March, 615 for February, 1,585 for January — the deadliest month of the pandemic — and 977 for December, the next-deadliest.