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Orange County’s weekly COVID-19 stats rise, but hospitalizations remain low, officials say

Director of the OC Health Care Agency, Dr. Clayton Chau speaks during a public candlelight memorial on June 11.
The director of the OC Health Care Agency, Dr. Clayton Chau, speaks during a public candlelight memorial for the over 5,000 Orange County COVID-19 victims at the Avenue of the Arts Hotel in Costa Mesa earlier this month. The agency reported Tuesday that there has been an uptick in cases of the novel coronavirus this week, but hospitalizations are down.
(Drew A. Kelley )

Orange County’s weekly averages for COVID-19 cases ticked up this week, but hospitalization numbers remained low, data released Tuesday show.

According to weekly state data released every Tuesday, the county’s average daily new case rate per 100,000 residents edged up from 0.9 last week to 1, while the overall test positivity rate ticked up from 0.7% to 0.9%. The county’s Health Equity Quartile rate, which measures positivity in hot spots in disadvantaged communities, climbed from 0.7% last week to 1.1% this week.

The county on Tuesday reported 44 new COVID-19 infections, pushing the cumulative total to 256,266. Hospitalizations inched up from 51 on Monday to 56 on Tuesday, while the number of intensive care unit patients decreased from 11 to 10.

The Orange County Health Care Agency also logged two more fatalities, but they happened in February. One of the fatalities was an assisted living facility resident, increasing the number of dead in that category to 601.

The overall death toll is 5,120 for the county. The death toll now stands at six for June; 22 for May; 42 for April; 198 for March; 610 for February; 1,559 for January, the deadliest month of the pandemic; and 966 for December, the next deadliest.

Andrew Noymer, a UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, said Friday that “the numbers are still looking good for Orange County.”

There has been concern about the more contagious Delta variant spurring an increase in COVID-19 cases globally, but Noymer emphasized that “the Delta variant is covered by the current vaccines.”

He added, “What worries me about the Delta variant is not the Delta variant per se…it’s some future variant…Anyone concerned about Delta should get vaccinated right away.”

As the coronavirus spreads to unvaccinated people, it could continue to mutate and develop strains that could more easily evade vaccines, Noymer said. As of last week, the county had 1,734,537 fully vaccinated residents. Of those, 1,621,711 received both doses and 264,074 had received one shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, which require two doses. Another 112,826 people received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The county on Tuesday reported 5,346 tests, increasing the cumulative tally to 4,110,483. The county’s weekly average of tests per 100,000 residents fell from 198.6 to 175.2.

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