The number of COVID-19-positive patients in Orange County hospitals continued ticking back up as the death toll for last month nears 100, but testing-positivity rates are declining, according to data released Friday by the Orange County Health Care Agency.
From Monday through Thursday, the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 went from 282 to 291, while the number of intensive care unit patients increased from 40 to 44.
Officials cannot determine how many of the hospitalized patients were admitted directly for COVID-19 or tested positive while being treated for another ailment.
But from July 1-31, 146 patients admitted directly for COVID-19 were designed as incompletely vaccinated or unvaccinated. Another 39 received the primary series of shots, and 57 received booster shots.
According to the county, 71.2% of hospital patients are incompletely vaccinated or totally unvaccinated. The percentage in intensive care is 72%.
The county has 26.4% of its ICU beds available. Officials become concerned if that level falls below 20%.
The county’s testing positivity rate decreased from 16.7% to 15.6% and declined from 20% to 18.3% in the health equity quartile, which measures the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.
The county’s daily case rate per 100,000 people decreased from 29.6 to 25.7 on a seven-day average with a seven-day lag, and from 28.7 to 25.7 for the adjusted rate, also with a seven-day average and seven-day lag.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, told City News Service on Friday. He noted that the testing positive percentages “keeps moving in the right direction … and ICUs are holding steady.”
Noymer said he is concerned about a fall or winter surge based on waning immunity and the prospects of a new variant.
“There will be an inevitable new variant, plus the fact a lot of people are done with boosting,” Noymer said. “For a lot of people, their most recent booster shot was last fall.”
The county logged 2,308 more infections from Monday to Thursday, raising the cumulative case count to 648,871. The county logged 15 more fatalities, raising the overall death toll to 7,262.
Of the fatalities logged since Tuesday, 13 occurred last month, raising July’s death toll to 98. Another fatality occurred this month, raising the death toll for August to two.
June’s death toll stands at 54. The last time the county had a death toll in triple digits was February.
The OCHCA provides regular COVID updates on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The case rate per 100,000 people for fully vaccinated residents who have received a vaccine booster went from 34.2 on July 31 to 22.7 on Aug. 7, the latest data available show. The case rate for residents fully vaccinated with no booster went from 21.2 to 14.5, and from 36 to 26.2 for residents not fully vaccinated.
The number of vaccinations administered in Orange County increased from 2,337,024 to 2,339,462, according to data released Tuesday. The county has also logged 206,818 residents who received one of two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
Booster shots increased from 1,361,118 to 1,365,594.
In the most recently authorized age of 4 and younger, the number of fully vaccinated residents increased from 943 to 1,462 versus 185,387 unvaccinated. The number of children 4 and younger who have received at least one dose is at 9,674.
In the age group of 5-11 years old, only about 36% are vaccinated. But 40% have received at least one dose.
By contrast, in the 12-17 age group, 70% are vaccinated and 30% are unvaccinated.