O.C. hospitalizations stable but vaccination rates rising

Detail of covid-19 vaccine vials and syringe; novel coronavirus treatment and prevention research concept
Photo credit Getty Images

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Orange County remains relatively flat while vaccination rates in the county inch upward.

During one of her regular virtual briefings, Supervisor Katrina Foley said the county is still monitoring hospitalizations.

“I always have said throughout the entire pandemic we need to track those hospitalizations and the ICUs above all else to see where we’re going,” said Foley.

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The O.C. Health Care Agency reported 326 new cases Thursday and 11 new COVID-19-related deaths. There are 371 individuals currently hospitalized due to the virus, a slight increase from Wednesday’s 368 and edging near to Tuesday’s 372.

The county had 25.3 percent of its ICU beds available and 65 percent of its ventilators, City News Service reported.

According to the weekly averages, which are released on Tuesdays, the county's case rate per 100,000 residents dropped from 16 to 15.3 this week. The testing positivity rate fell from 5.4 percent to 4.7 percent.

"Four beds is not significant, but we're moving in the right direction. Same thing with the ICU. And the percent positive is down from where it was, so everything is looking good," Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor, told City News Service on Wednesday.

Despite an improvement in case numbers, there are still signs of concern. Last week, the county reported that a child under the age of 5 died from COVID-related complications. The child was the county’s second juvenile fatality stemming from COVID-19.

The county’s Deputy Health Officer Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong said there are more than 450,000 children in the county who are not eligible to get vaccinated and are at heightened risk from the virus.

But, according to county officials, vaccination rates are increasing.

“In my district, District 2, we’re getting better. We’re in many cities over 70 percent at least partially vaccinated. We’ve got Buena Park, a portion of Costa Mesa,” Foley said. She noted that for most zip codes in Huntington Beach 70 percent of residents have received at least one shot. In one zip code, more than 90 percent of residents have gotten at least one shot.

The county’s health officer indicated this week that the county is at about 64 percent fully vaccinated, according to Foley.