Orange County reported 1,666 new cases of COVID-19 but no additional deaths on Saturday, bringing the county’s total to 76,761 cases and 1,577 deaths.
The large number of new cases come after the county reported 1,943 new cases and 18 additional deaths on Friday. However, these numbers spanned two days as there was no update on Thursday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
The number of county’s residents hospitalized with the virus rose from 506 Friday to 534, with the number of ICU patients falling from 139 to 138, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
The change in the three-day average of hospital patients increased from 16.8% to 12.3%. The district has 24.8% of its beds in intensive care units and 63.4% of its ventilators.
Numbers received over the holiday weekend seem to confirm officials’ fears that there could be a Thanksgiving surge. Orange County’s CEO Frank Kim said earlier this week he was “very concerned” about the increase in cases and hospitalizations.
“And while the various hospitals (executives) I’ve interviewed seem more confident about how to treat them now than they were when the disease started, I don’t take any of this lightly,” said Kim. “Any increase in hospital stays and ICU rates is a major concern for our community.”
Officials recommend waiting at least two days after an event or gathering to get tested because the infection may not be detected immediately.
Andrew Noymer, Associate Professor of Population Health and Disease Prevention at UC Irvine, warned of a grim winter.
“I’m very concerned about the trends we’ll see after Thanksgiving,” Noymer told City News Service. “People don’t appreciate that we recorded deaths from the summer wave through October.”
Noymer predicted more cases than the July peak.
“But this won’t just be like another July and go away,” Noymer said. “I think it’s going to get worse.”
The last time hospital stay rates were this high was August 10, Noymer said.
“We’ll be back in July (level) at the end of next week,” said Noymer. “And will it crash like July or get worse and worse. There are reasons to believe that we could get worse and worse.”
Noymer said that’s mainly because the colder weather is pushing people to do more indoor activities and some students are still attending classes in classrooms.
The worst day for COVID-19 hospital stays in Orange County was July 14, with 722 patients.
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In the state’s tiered surveillance system, which is updated on Tuesdays, the county’s adjusted daily case rate per 100,000 population increased from 10.8 to 17.2 and the positivity rate increased from 4.6% to 6.8%.
The positivity rate fits within the red tier of the four-tier roadmap for reopening the state, but the daily case rate per 100,000 is well above the 8% threshold for the most restrictive purple tier.
The number of tests conducted in the county is 1,437,146, including 11,017 reported on Saturday. 59,266 restores were documented.
Kim said he was optimistic that vaccines are on the way and expected to arrive by the end of the year. Hospital systems will receive the vaccines directly and individual hospitals will receive doses from the county, Kim said.
Frontline health workers will be among the first to get vaccinations, along with people with underlying health conditions that make them particularly susceptible to the disease.
The hope is that increased testing and awareness of infection will lead to more quarantine and isolation, as well as other social distancing practices that will help curb the spread of the virus, Kim said.
The county’s tests per 100,000 come in at 354.1, beating the county’s testing targets at the time, Kim said.