OC's COVID-19 Hospitalizations Continue Downward; 47 More Deaths Reported

SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County's COVID-19 hospitalization rate continues on a downward trend, though health officials are reporting 1,003 new cases and 47 more fatalities, raising the cumulative death toll to 3,109.

The county's cumulative case count now stands at 233,394, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Of the fatalities reported Monday, 10 were skilled nursing facility residents and eight were assisted living facility residents. Of the total fatalities since the pandemic began, 840 were skilled nursing facility residents and 337 were assisted living facility residents.

Since Sunday, the county has logged 91 coronavirus-related fatalities. Last week, the county reported 393 coronavirus deaths, up from 305 the week before.

The death reports are staggered because they come from a variety of sources and are not always logged immediately.

The death toll for January is 574 with Jan. 3 the deadliest day in the pandemic when 58 people succumbed to COVID-19. The second and third most lethal days were Dec. 30 when 53 people died and Christmas Day when 52 succumbed to coronavirus.

December was the deadliest month during the pandemic with 834 people succumbing to coronavirus.

The number of coronavirus patients in hospitals in Orange County continued its downward trend, declining from 1,412 Sunday to 1,362 Monday, with the number of patients in intensive care dropping from 392 to 384.

The county's state-adjusted ICU bed availability remains at zero, and the unadjusted figure increased from 9.8% Sunday to 10.9%.

The state created the adjusted metric to reflect the difference in beds available for COVID-19 patients and non-coronavirus patients. The county has 49% of its ventilators available.

The Orange County Health Care Agency reported 11,640 tests on Monday, for a total of 2,693,313.

Orange County CEO Frank Kim told City News Service the county's positivity rate has declined nearly 50% since its peak Jan. 10.

The county's Health Equity Quartile Positivity Rate, which measures the cases in highly affected, needier parts of the county, declined from 21.2% last week to 16.6% on Tuesday. The state updates the statistics weekly on Tuesdays.

The adjusted daily case rate per 100,000 dropped from 67.1 to 46.6, and the test positivity rate on a seven-day average with a seven-day lag dropped from 16.7% to 12.9%.

Kim said on Monday the positivity rate was at 10.9% and the daily case rate per 100,000 has dropped to 38.5.

To move to the less-restrictive red tier from the top -- purple -- tier in the state's coronavirus regulatory system, the county has to improve to 4 to 7 new daily cases per 100,000 and 5% to 8% positivity rate with a health equity quartile at 5.3% to 8%.

Kim said it appears the hospitalizations are “decreasing at an accelerated pace... certainly the numbers are encouraging.''

Orange County hospitals are stepping up vaccinations, Kim said. The county is responsible for distributing about 20% of vaccinations and hospital systems received the rest of the state's allocations.

“So we're making substantial progress in increasing vaccine visibility,'' Kim said. “Now it's not just the county. The hospitals are starting to recover and doing what they can, which is fantastic.''

County officials expect that Johnson & Johnson will seek emergency authorization for its one-dose vaccine next week which could be available by mid-month, Kim said.

Outbreaks -- defined as at least two cases over the past two weeks -- were reported in 26 skilled nursing facilities and 37 elderly assisted living facilities in the county as of Friday.

Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa -- which was set up to handle overflow from local hospitals -- was treating 30 patients, 20 from Orange County, seven from Los Angeles County, two from Riverside County and one San Bernardino County.

Beginning Monday, the county is offering eligible rental households up to $10,000 in financial assistance for unpaid rent and/or utility bills due to the impact of the pandemic, according to the OCHCA. More information about the program can be found at https://era.211oc.org/ or by calling 211.

Photo: Getty Images

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