SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County's COVID-19 hospitalizations againdropped below 200 and four more fatalities were logged, according to latestdata from the Orange County Health Care Agency.
The county's COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped from 200 Wednesday to195 Thursday, with the number of intensive care unit patients increasing from49 to 53.
County hospitals have 28% of their ICU beds and 69% of theirventilators available, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
The county also logged 314 more infections, raising the cumulative to304,368. The death toll rose to 5,592.
The number of fully vaccinated residents in Orange County increasedfrom 2,162,820 last Thursday to 2,177,053 this week.
That number includes an increase from 2,019,902 to 2,032,863 residentswho have received the two-dose regimen of vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna.The number of residents receiving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccineincreased from 142,918 to 144,190.
There are 187,552 residents who have received one dose of the Pfizeror Moderna vaccines.
The top providers of vaccines are the OCHCA at 26.10%, CVS at 18.50%,Walgreens at 6.20%, Kaiser Permanente at 5.40%, UC Irvine Health at 2.70%;Walmart at 2%, Safeway, Vons and Pavilions at 1.30%; Families Together ofOrange County at 1.10%, and multiple others below 1%.
Orange County CEO Frank Kim told City News Service he is concernedabout the flat recovery from the summer surge.
“I haven't been told why it's been so flat,'' Kim said. In past surges there is usually a marked dropoff when the infection rates recede, Kimsaid.
Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of populationhealth and disease prevention, told City News Service on Tuesday it was tooearly to tell if slight increases in hospitalizations earlier this weeksignaled the start of an expected winter wave.
“I think we're in a good place, honestly,'' Noymer said. “We were at 400 hospitalizations in August, so heading into the winter I'll go with 200.
“I'm not going to get so panicky yet. ... I'm still expecting another wave, but it's too early to say if this increase is now the start of that wave or just noise.''
The county's weekly COVID case rate per 100,000 residents, which is released on Tuesdays, improved from 6.6 to 6 this week, while the test positivity rate fell from 2.5% to 2.3%. The county's Health Equity Quartile positivity rate -- which measures progress in low-income communities – dropped from 2.5% to 2.3%.
Of the fourth deaths logged Thursday, three occurred this month, raising the death toll to 41 for October. September's death toll stands at 165. The August death toll is 172.
In contrast, the death toll before the more contagious Delta variant-fueled surge was 29 in July, 19 for June, 26 for May, 46 for April, 200 for March, 615 for February, 1,585 for January -- the deadliest month of the pandemic -- and 977 for December, the next-deadliest.
Noymer was pleased to see a Food and Drug Administration panel on Tuesday recommend the Pfizer vaccine for children 5-11, but added it's difficult to say if that will put a dent in cases.
“We honestly don't know the role kids have in spreading the virus,'' Noymer said. “I'm all for vaccinating them, but it remains to be seen whether this will be a game changer.''
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