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Orange County’s weekly coronavirus averages continue trending down

Masked strollers on the boardwalk near the Huntington Beach Pier, in Huntington Beach.
Women wearing masks to protect themselves against the coronavirus enjoy a day at the boardwalk near the Huntington Beach Pier. Orange County’s weekly averages for COVID-19 case counts and positivity rates continue trending down, according to state figures released Tuesday.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

Orange County’s weekly averages for COVID-19 case counts and positivity rates continue trending down, according to state figures released Tuesday.

The weekly averages showed that the case rate per 100,000 residents dropped from 16 to 15.3, while the testing positivity rate fell from 5.4% to 4.7%.

The county’s Health Equity Quartile positivity rate, which measures progress in the county’s low-income communities, dropped from 5.8% to 5.1%.

Orange County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped from 406 on Monday to 372 Tuesday, with the number of intensive care unit patients declining from 119 to 105, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. The last time hospitalizations were below 400 patients was Aug. 4.

The county had 23.3% of its ICU beds available and 65% of its ventilators.

“Hospitalizations are down so that’s nice to see,” Orange County CEO Frank Kim said Monday. “What you worry about is the state has indicated that 15% to 20% of cases could still result in hospitalizations, and we’re still recording 1,500 infections over a three-day period, so 200 to 300 might end up in a hospital in the coming weeks. We hope that number continues to drop as more people are vaccinated because we hear that in general vaccinated individuals experience more mild symptoms (when there is a breakthrough infection).”

The county logged seven more COVID-19 related deaths Tuesday, raising the cumulative total to 5,316. Six of the fatalities occurred in August, raising that month’s death toll to 122. One of the fatalities occurred this month, raising September’s death toll so far to four.

The death toll for July was 21, 17 in June, 23 in May, 45 in April, 199 in March, 615 in February, 1,578 in January — the deadliest month of the pandemic — and 975 in December, the next deadliest.

The OCHCA also reported 391 new infections, raising the cumulative total to 291,772 since the pandemic began.

On Friday, the county reported that a child under age 5 died due to complications from the virus, O.C.‘s second juvenile fatality associated with COVID-19. Officials did not disclose the age or gender of the child but said there were underlying health conditions.

The county’s other juvenile COVID-19 fatality occurred last August. The victim was a teenage girl with significant underlying medical conditions.

Dr. Clayton Chau, the county’s chief health officer and director of the OCHCA, told the Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that there were eight children hospitalized with COVID-19 at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, with three in intensive care.

Board Chairman Andrew Do, who is fully vaccinated but has tested positive for COVID-19, skipped Tuesday’s board meeting to quarantine and recuperate at home from his breakthrough infection.

About 96% of the COVID-19 victims who died in August were unvaccinated, Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong told reporters Friday. The small fraction who were vaccinated had serious underlying medical conditions, Chinsio-Kwong said.

The county had 2,043,693 fully vaccinated residents out of its 3.2 million population, according to data released Thursday.

That number includes 1,908,595 who have received the two-dose regimen of vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna and 135,098 who have received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. There are 288,020 residents who have received one dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

The county’s vaccination rate has picked up some of late, officials say. According to the OCHCA, the largest distributor of inoculations is the agency at 27.40%. CVS has dispensed the second most in Orange County at 18%. Walgreens has doled out 5.9% of the shots, just ahead of Kaiser Permanente at 5.7% and UC Irvine Health at 2.8%.

Walmart has inoculated 1.8% of Orange County residents, Safeway, Vons and Pavilions have doled out 1.10% of shots and the Families Together of Orange County has dispensed 1.1% of shots. All other healthcare providers were under 1%.

The county’s case rate for fully vaccinated residents as of Sept. 4, the latest figures available, was 4.4 per 100,000, but 26 per 100,000 for the unvaccinated.

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