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COVID-19 fatalities reach 5,000 in Orange County

Shoppers explore the various vendors during the Farmers Market in April at the O.C. fairgrounds.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Orange County reached a grim milestone Friday: 5,000 people have died of COVID-19 since the county health care agency began tracking the data in March last year.

The agency breaks down the deaths further. Of those 5,000, 1,091 were residents of skilled nursing facilities and 552 were residents of assisted living facilities. One patient who died was an inmate and 11 were individuals experiencing homelessness.

The remaining 3,345 deaths were of those residents not living in a facility.

Andrew Noymer, a UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, told City News Service that Orange County was the 11th deadliest in California during the pandemic.

“So we’re not the worst by any stretch of the imagination,” said Noymer on Friday, adding that the rate of deaths for Orange County is 1,570 deaths per million. That compares against Los Angeles County, which averages at around 2,370 deaths per million, and San Diego County, which averages at 1,110 per million.

“The next 12 months won’t bring another 5,000 deaths. I’m quite confident of that,” Noymer said. “The worst is behind us.”

The area saw massive jumps in hospitalizations earlier this year and late last year following the holiday season.

With that in mind, area hospitals reported Friday that hospitalizations remain below 100. Of the 93 patients currently hospitalized, only 20 are currently in intensive care units.

Prior to that, hospitalizations did not drop below 100 until Monday.

County officials told City News Service that they are optimistic that Orange County will soon follow Los Angeles County into the yellow and least-restrictive tier in the state’s reopening blueprint by Sunday.

As of Friday afternoon, the data indicate that the county’s adjusted daily case rate per every 100,000 residents is now 2.4. The positivity rate and health equity quartile positive rate are 1.3% and 1.4% respectively. To qualify for movement into the next tier, the adjusted daily case rate must fall below 2.

The county will then need to record two consecutive weeks of qualifying numbers before it will be able to transition.

According to county estimates, about 247,105 residents have recovered from the illness.

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