Orange County sees drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations

SANTA ANA, Calif. (CNS) -- Orange County's COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped again while 13 more deaths were recorded, according to figures released Friday by the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The number of coronavirus patients in county hospitals dropped from 313 Thursday to 308 Friday, with the number of patients in intensive care declining from 87 to 76, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. The last time hospitalization rates were this low was the end of July.

The county has 22.6% of its ICU beds available and 66% of its ventilators.

The 13 latest deaths recorded consisted of 12 in August and one in December. There have been 5,384 coronavirus deaths in Orange County since the start of the pandemic, including 39 this month.

The death toll for August stands at 148. That marks a stark contract with the rest of the summer. The death toll for July was 22, with 19 in June, 23 in May, 46 in April, 199 in March, 615 in February, 1,580 in January - the deadliest month of the pandemic -- and 976 in December, the next deadliest.

Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, deputy county health officer, said 94% of the people who died in August were unvaccinated.

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"And none of the 94% were even partially vaccinated," Chinsio-Kwong said.

Without vaccines the death toll from this summer's surge, which was fueled by the more contagious Delta variant, would have been higher, Chinsio-Kwong said.

"We could have been losing more people to Delta if we didn't have the vaccination rates we have," she said.

Chinsio-Kwong noted that the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has surpassed the death toll from the 1918-20 Spanish flu pandemic which occurred when the U.S. population was about 106 million, slightly less than one-third of the 2020 figure of 331 million.

"In this day and age we expect with all the advances in technology and in medicine that we wouldn't have such a devastating pandemic with such a devastating amount of people who have died," Chinsio-Kwong said.

"Unfortunately, a lot of that was people who didn't believe in the pandemic or had fears and were hesitant to get vaccinated. ... This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated."

"It tells a harrowing story and it should encourage anyone to get vaccinated," Chinsio-Kwong said.

All Orange County residents who died from COVID-19 in September were not fully vaccinated, Chinsio-Kwong said. One had received one of two doses of Moderna vaccine and the others did not receive any doses, she added.

The OCHCA also reported 356 new infections Friday, raising the cumulative total to 295,227.

Eight of the people who died from COVID-19 last month who were vaccinated and at least 65 years old, Chinsio-Kwong said. Seven were older than 75 and one who was between 65 and 74 was in a skilled nursing facility, she added.
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