SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County's COVID-19 death toll for last month has eclipsed 100, but hospitalizations have gone down again, according to the latest figures.
Data released Wednesday show the county logged 16 more fatalities, raising the cumulative death toll to 5,286. Of those deaths logged Wednesday, 15 happened in August, raising the death toll for last month to 102. One of the deaths happened Dec. 13, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
The August death toll stands in stark contrast with July, when so far 20 deaths have been logged. There have been no deaths reported for September so far.
The death toll for June was just 17, 23 in May, 45 in April, 199 in March, 615 in February, 1,575 in January -- the deadliest month of the pandemic -- and 973 in December, the next deadliest.
Orange County's COVID-19 hospitalizations declined from 466 on Tuesday to 446 Wednesday. The number of intensive care unit patients increased from 128 to 135.
The county had 22.9% of its ICU beds available and 64% of its ventilators as of Wednesday.
The OCHCA also added new metrics to its website measuring the case rate per 100,000 residents in various age groups, which breaks down as follows:
-- Among infants up to 3 years old, the case rate is 7.6;
-- for ages 4-9, it's 13.5;
-- for ages 10-12, it's 14.3;
-- for ages 13-14, it's 14.5;
-- for ages 15-18, it's 13.9;
-- for ages 19-24, it's 15.9;
-- for ages 25-34, it's 17.8;
-- for ages 35-44, it's 16.4;
-- for ages 45-54, it's 13.1;
-- for ages 55-64, it's 11.4;
-- for ages 65-74, it's 11.9;
-- for ages 85 and older, it's 11.9.
On Tuesday, the county's weekly COVID-19 case and positivity rates showed significant declines, providing more evidence that the county is emerging from the summer surge.
“The numbers are all looking good, so I'd say keep it up Orange County,'' Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, told City News Service after the weekly numbers were released.
“It's pretty clear that we're going to get through this summer without exceeding last summer's peak.''
Noymer added he was “apprehensive about Labor Day unleashing a wave, but don't set your watch two weeks from today. We've seen before that these waves build in weird ways that nobody really understands fully. Yes, I think the worst is coming, but I don't know when.''
Orange County CEO Frank Kim told CNS on Tuesday that “our data looks pretty good.''
The county's average daily case rate per 100,000 residents dropped from 18.6 last week to 16, while the testing positivity rate fell from 6.8% to 5.4%.
The county's Health Equity Quartile rate, which measures the impact of the pandemic on disadvantaged communities, dropped from 7.3% to 5.8%.
The positivity rates overall and in the Health Equity Quartile “have traded back and forth, but we're not seeing significant disparity,'' Kim said.
“We started to see a consistent decline the third week in August,'' Kim said of the infection rates. Testing has also rebounded, he said.
“What's interesting is in July our testing dropped to an all-time low of 162 (per 100,000 residents),'' Kim said. “But once the cases started to rise they more than doubled.''
The county's testing rate was 357.3 per 100,000 residents, according to the weekly averages.
Kim also said it appears vaccination demand was also on the rise.
“The vaccines have been here since January, we're eight months into it and tens of millions of people are vaccinated and there have been some isolated cases of adverse reactions, but overall it's a safe vaccine,'' Kim said. “The vaccines are here, they're plentiful and easy to get to and they're working.''
The county's case rate for fully vaccinated residents as of Aug. 28, the latest figures available, was 5.7 per 100,000, but 32.5 per 100,000 for the unvaccinated.
The OCHCA reported 338 new infections Wednesday, raising the cumulative total to 288,939 cases since the pandemic began.
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