Orange County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations continued sliding down as the first fatalities of the year have been logged, according to data released Thursday by the Orange County Health Care Agency.
Hospitalizations of COVID-19-infected patients have been going up and down since a steady rise ended on Dec. 7.
There were 257 patients hospitalized last Thursday, but that number was down to 248 as of Wednesday. The number of intensive care unit patients remained the same as last Thursday at 28.
“It’s steady as she goes,” Andrew Noymer, a UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, told City News Service. “I’m really happy to see things are continuing to be quite manageable. The worst statistic is the test positivity, which is another reminder that we still have COVID .”
Noymer said he was hoping the most recent variant, XBB.1.5, does not fuel another surge. There does not appear to be many cases emerging in Orange County, according to the health care agency’s statistics.
“I want to see how much XBB.1.5 is rearing its ugly head,” Noymer said. “I’m anxiously waiting. We might just dodge a bullet, but who knows.”
The newest variant is more contagious and more efficient at evading vaccines.
The agency logged 23 more fatalities, increasing the death toll to 7,765. Fourteen of the fatalities occurred in December, raising that month’s death toll to 114.
Five of the fatalities were the first of the new year. Three of the fatalities happened in November, increasing that month’s death toll to 51.
December is the first month with triple-digit deaths since the summer wave. On two of the dates, 10 people died, marking the first time there were days of double-digit deaths since February.
Of those hospitalized in the county, 63.5% are unvaccinated or partly vaccinated. The ICU patients are 64.7% partly or unvaccinated.
The number of residents fully vaccinated increased from 2,363,970 to 2,365,038. The number of residents who have received at least one dose is 224,885. The number of booster shots administered increased from 1,440,358 to 1,443,362.
The number of children up to 4 years old who have received at least one dose inched up from 17,864 to 18,087, with 11,078 fully vaccinated. Just 5.9% of the county’s population in the age group is fully vaccinated.
For 5- to 11-year-old children, 97,224 are fully vaccinated, about 36.7% of the age group. In the 12-to-17 age group, 69.6% are fully vaccinated.
The test positivity rate went from 15.2% last week to 10.4% and decreased from 15.1% to 10.7% in the health equity quartile, which measures the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.
Noymer said the positivity rate was still “pretty high.”
The daily case rate per 100,000 went from 13.8 to 10.3 on a seven-day average with a seven-day lag, and went from 14.1 to 10.1 in the adjusted daily case rate per 100,000 on a seven-day average with a seven-day lag.
The OCHCA reports COVID data every Thursday.
The county logged 1,515 new cases of COVID-19, hiking the cumulative to 704,385.
The positivity rate for those fully vaccinated with a booster, which was 18 on Jan. 1, dropped to 13.1 on Jan. 8. For those vaccinated with no booster, the rate went from 10.8 to 7. For those not vaccinated the rate went from 14.1 to 10.9.