Date: 12-08-2022 6:41 PM - Word Count: 760

   COVID-19 Numbers Keep Zooming Up in Orange County
   SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County's coronavirus case rates and
hospitalizations kept a steady pace up this week with patient levels exceeding
the summer wave and not seen since mid-February, according to data released
today by the Orange County Health Care Agency.
   Hospitalizations of COVID-19-infected patients have been on a steady
rise since Nov. 11, when there were 105 patients.
   There were 299 patients as of Nov. 30, and that number has climbed to
388 as of Wednesday. The number of patients in intensive care have mirrored the
same trend with the number climbing from 38 to 48.
   ``The hospitalization numbers are back to February levels and that is
portentous,'' said Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of
population health and disease prevention. ``It speaks for itself that we're
back to levels not seen since last winter, the tail end of the Omicron wave,
and we're heading into another winter wave.''
   As Los Angeles County is weighing another indoor mask mandate, Noymer
recommended masking up in Orange County.
   ``The best thing people can do is mask in indoor spaces like the mall
or the grocery store,'' Noymer said. ``I really urge people to mask when they
do their Christmas shopping. Christmas will be more fun if people aren't
   The peak of this summer's wave was on July 2 when there were 350
patients, Noymer noted.
   ``Next week, I predict we'll be back up to January levels or early
February levels. The point is we're moving in the wrong direction.''
   Noymer noted there has also been a corresponding uptick in RSV and flu
illnesses as well that are burdening hospital staffs.
   ``Nobody knows how long that will persist but RSV impacts children's
hospitals and children's hospitals have been sending some patients to adult
hospitals,'' Noymer said. ``It looks like RSV may have peaked, which is good,
because we only so much we can take at a specific time.''
   It's difficult to say whether the level of COVID-19 patients will
exceed last year's winter wave, but this year hospitals are dealing with a
national trend of nursing staff shortages, Noymer said.
   ``I think there are staffing shortages affecting Orange County, too,''
Noymer said.
   ``We're also in a situation in which there's a shocking low number of
people who have taken the bivalent (Omicron) booster,'' Noymer said.
   And many others received vaccines so long ago they may not provide
enough protection to prevent serious illness, he added.
   The number of residents fully vaccinated increased from 2,359,862 to
2,360,871. The number of residents who have received at least one dose is
219,228. The number of booster shots administered increased from 1,421,959 to
   The number of children up to 4 years old who have received at least
one dose inched up from 16,517 to 16,779, with 9,809 fully vaccinated. Just
5.3% of the county's population in the age group is fully vaccinated.
   For 5- to 11-year-old children, 97,120 are fully vaccinated, about
36.7% of the age group. In the 12-to-17 age group, 69.7% are fully vaccinated.
   The test positivity rate went from 8.6% last week to 13%, and
increased from 8.3% to 13.4% in the health equity quartile, which measures the
communities hardest hit by the pandemic.
   The daily case rate per 100,000 increased from 9.1 to 13.4 on a seven-
day average with a seven-day lag, and jumped up from 9.4 to 14.5 in the
adjusted daily case rate per 100,000 on a seven-day average with a seven-day
   The OCHCA reports COVID data every Thursday.
   Of those hospitalized, 65.4% are incompletely vaccinated or
unvaccinated and 66.6% of the COVID-19 patients in intensive care units are
incompletely vaccinated or unvaccinated, the agency said.
   The county logged 4,449 new cases of COVID-19, hiking the cumulative
to 687,334. Seventeen more fatalities were logged, hiking the overall death
toll to 7,594.
   Nine of the fatalities occurred this month, increasing November's
death toll to 24. Four of the deaths occurred in October, increasing that
month's death toll to 66. Two fatalities occurred in September, raising that
month's death toll to 76. One occurred in June and another was in July.
   The positivity rate for those fully vaccinated with a booster went
from 11 to 16 on Dec. 4. For those vaccinated with no booster, the rate went
from 5% to 8%. For those not vaccinated the rate went from 24.6% to 42.2%.

   Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

CNS-12-08-2022 18:41