OC's COVID-19 Hospitalizations and Cases Continue to Drop

Disneyland To Become Orange County COVID-19 Vaccine Mega-Site

SANTA ANA (CNS) - While Orange County's COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases continue to decline, 37 more fatalities have been logged as the death toll from the holiday season surge mounts.

The county also reported 546 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing its cumulative totals to 234,708 cases and 3,199 deaths.

The number of coronavirus patients in hospitals in Orange County continued its downward trend, declining from 1,330 on Tuesday to 1,298, with the number of patients in intensive care dropping from 370 to 363, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Hospitalizations have come down nearly 19% since a week ago, and the ICU rate has dipped nearly 18% in that period, Orange County CEO Frank Kim said.

“It's kind of a similar pattern -- they're both coming down pretty fast,'' he said. “Our testing volume remains strong, which is outstanding, so that gives you more confidence (in the positivity rate). If we had lower testing volumes I'd be more skeptical of the number. We're moving in the right direction. It's just going to be awhile.''

The OCHCA reported 14,219 COVID-19 tests on Wednesday, bringing the total to 2,716,157.

Tuesday, when the county reported 768 new infections, marked the first time since Dec. 31 that the OCHCA had reported fewer than 1,000 cases.

Of the deaths reported Wednesday, one was an assisted living facility resident, hiking the total to 348. Coronavirus has also claimed 849 skilled nursing facility residents in the county.

Since Sunday, the county has logged 181 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 stands at 664. December was the deadliest month during the pandemic, with 834 people succumbing to coronavirus.

Kim said vaccinations at the county's two super sites at Disneyland and Soka University in Aliso Viejo have been “going really well.''

The county is inoculating about 5,000 daily at Disneyland and about 2,500 to 2,600 daily at the university, he said.

“We could easily scale that up,'' but the county needs more vaccines, Kim said. “We're using up all the doses that we receive.''

The issues the county previously had with its Othena app and website to schedule and inform the public about vaccines “have been mostly smoothed out,'' Kim said. “But for people who have difficulty accessing technology, that will be a challenge.''

The county is partnering with CalOptima, the county's primary insurance provider for low-income residents, to provide vaccines through mobile clinics, Kim said.

The county is responsible for distributing about 20% of vaccinations and hospital systems receive the rest of the state's allocations.

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

The outbreak in the county's jails continued to decline. The number of inmates infected dropped from 25 on Tuesday to 23 on Wednesday, with one inmate hospitalized. The county is awaiting the result of 217 tests.

The county's state-adjusted ICU bed availability remains at zero, and the unadjusted figure increased from 10% Tuesday to 12.2%. The state created the adjusted metric to reflect the difference in beds available for COVID-19 patients and non-coronavirus patients.

The adjusted daily case rate per 100,000 people dropped from 46.6 last week to 39 on Tuesday, and the test positivity rate on a seven-day average, with a seven-day lag, dropped from 12.9% to 10.9%. The numbers for the state's color-coded tier framework are updated on Tuesdays.

The county's Health Equity Quartile Positivity Rate, which measures the cases in highly affected, needier parts of the county, declined from 16.6% last week to 13.9%.

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 a 5% to 8% positivity rate with a health equity quartile at 5.3% to 8%.

Photo: Getty Images

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