SANTA ANA, Calif. (CNS) — Orange County's COVID-19 hospitalizations remained under 200 as three more fatalities — all of which occurred this month — were logged, according to data released Monday by the Orange County Health Care Agency.
Hospitalizations declined from 194 on Friday to 186, with the number of intensive care unit patients ticking up from 47 to 49. The OC HCA does not release statistics on Saturdays and Sundays. The county has 21.5% of its ICU beds available and 68% of its ventilators.
The county also logged 769 new infections, raising the cumulative to 311,066.
The newly logged fatalities raised the cumulative to 5,664 and hiked up November's death toll to 12.
October's death toll stands at 84, and it is 172 for September, just behind August's death toll of 174.
In contrast, the death toll before the more contagious delta variant-fueled summer surge was 30 in July, 19 for June, 26 for May, 46 for April, 200 for March, 615 for February, 1,589 for January — the deadliest month of the pandemic — and 980 for December, the next-deadliest.
On Friday, Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, the county's deputy health officer, said the nine people who had died as of then in November were all unvaccinated.
Chinsio-Kwong also told reporters Friday that more than 22,000 OC children aged 5 to 11 got their first shots of COVID-19 vaccine in the last week. Between Nov. 8 and 15, 22,427 children in that newly eligible age group received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, said Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, the county's deputy health officer.
Orange County's averages for infections remained about the same as the previous week, according to weekly data released Tuesday by the OCHCA.
The county's weekly COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 residents remained at 7.3, the same as last Tuesday, while the test-positivity rate stayed at 2.8%.
The county's Health Equity Quartile positivity rate — which measures progress in low-income communities — inched down from 3% to 2.9%.
Chinsio-Kwong warned residents of a looming winter wave, spurred by holiday gatherings. She pointed to rising levels of infection in European countries such as the U.K., Germany and Austria, where the vaccination rates are higher than in the U.S.
"It should be a warning to everyone in the United States that they should protect themselves," Chinsio-Kwong said. "This is not the time to be less careful. If anything, we have to be more careful."
The doctor encouraged residents to get vaccinated.
"Vaccines are effective and they do reduce hospitalizations and death," she said, pointing to the most recent study in the Pacific Northwest.
For the unvaccinated, death occurred seven times more often than for the inoculated, she said. The infection rate was three times higher, she added.
For parents uneasy about the timing of vaccine mandates for students, Chinsio-Kwong said they won't be required until the shots are fully approved instead of the emergency use authorizations they have for kids younger than 16. That isn't likely to happen until at least the summer of next year, so they would not be required until the 2022-23 school year at the earliest, she said.
The doctor advised residents be careful when gathering for Thanksgiving. It is best to have any get-togethers outdoors, but if they have to be indoors then the windows and doors should be opened to provide more ventilation, and getting vaccinated and using face coverings is advised, she said.
The county's case rate per 100,000 for the fully vaccinated was at 3.2 as of Nov. 13, down from 3.6 on Nov. 6, according to the latest data available. The case rate for the unvaccinated was at 16.3, down from 18.2 during the same time period.
As of last Monday, 69% of the total population had received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, and 64% were fully vaccinated, Chinsio-Kwong said.