SANTA ANA (CNS) - The number of people hospitalized with a coronavirus infection in Orange County has risen to 255, according to the latest state data released Tuesday, as the expected cold-weather surge in virus transmission continues.
State officials hadn't updated their hospitalization numbers since Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday, when there were 222 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals. Tuesday's data also showed 34 COVID patients being treated in intensive care, an increase from 32 ICU patients as of Thursday.
The statewide total of coronavirus patients ballooned to 3,532, an increase of 242 from the previous day and 750 more than last Thursday's total, as the expected cold-weather surge in virus transmission continues.
Local health officials reported last week that the county's test positivity rate jumped from 5.1% to 6.8%, and increased from 4.7% to 6.8% in the health equity quartile, which measures the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.
The daily case rate per 100,000 increased from 5.3 to 6.7 on a seven- day average with a seven-day lag, and jumped up from 5 to 6.8 in the adjusted daily case rate per 100,000 on a seven-day average with a seven-day lag.
The Orange County Health Care Agency reports COVID data every Thursday, but the statistics were released early last week because of the holiday.
The county logged 1,959 new cases of COVID-19 last week, hiking the cumulative to 679,195. Ten more fatalities were reported, increasing the death toll overall to 7,571. Nine of the deaths occurred in November, hiking this month's death toll to 13. One of the deaths occurred in October, raising that month's death toll to 59.
"These are significant increases," Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, told City News Service on Wednesday.
"It's a little steeper than the ones we've been seeing lately," Noymer added. "It's not quite as steep as what we saw literally a year ago when Omicron hit the scene, but it's as steep as what we've seen since then."
The increases appear higher and faster than what was seen in the summer wave, Noymer said.
"It's not the sky is falling, but it's worrisome," Noymer said. "People have to understand hospitalizations are as high now as they were at the end of August. It's the start of the wave that I always said was coming."
Orange County CEO Frank Kim said not all of the patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were admitted because they have the virus. But he said staff has received data that indicates a wave of flu cases coming earlier than previous years.
Of those hospitalized, 68% are incompletely vaccinated or unvaccinated and 68.4% of the COVID-19 patients in intensive care units are incompletely vaccinated or unvaccinated, the agency said.
The positivity rate for those fully vaccinated with a booster went from 8.1% on Nov. 13 to 9% on Nov. 20. For those vaccinated with no booster, the rate went from 3.8% to 5.2%. For those not vaccinated the rate went from 7.9% to 11.9%.