Orange County

Orange County's COVID-19 Patients in ICUs Hit New High, as More Than 2,200 Hospitalized With Virus

Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said the county had only 41 intensive care unit beds available.

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Orange County reported 3,121 new cases of COVID-19 and 50 additional deaths Sunday, bringing the county's totals to 188,602 cases and 2,092 fatalities.

The number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus decreased slightly, from 2,221 Saturday to 2,216, with intensive care unit patients climbing from 528 to a record 547, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Of Sunday's 50 reported deaths, nine were residents of skilled nursing facilities and one was a staff member at a skilled nursing facility, while 11 were residents of assisted living facilities. Since the pandemic began, 692 of the dead were skilled nursing facility residents and 232 were residents of assisted living facilities.

The death reports are staggered, meaning not all of the 50 deaths reported Sunday occurred in the past 24 hours.

There were 33,470 tests reported Sunday, raising the cumulative to 2,257,432, according to the OCHCA. There have been 113,309 documented recoveries.

Orange County CEO Frank Kim, referring to the expected surge of Christmas and New Year's-related cases, said last week that the current wave of the pandemic is going to get worse.

"People were not behaving around the holidays, so I'm fearful the numbers will be worse," Kim said. "Our case rates have not come down and the testing positivity rates are climbing."

The positivity rate is about 18%, Kim said.

Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said the county had only 41 intensive care unit beds available.

"They are starting to put patients in cath labs and other parts of the hospital," Bartlett said. "There aren't available rooms and space so they're using every single opportunity of space within a hospital environment for patients."

State officials are pushing hospitals to get patients who are recovering into assisted living facilities or elsewhere to free up hospital beds, Bartlett said.

Hospital officials are also instructing staff on rationed care and to prepare for it, Bartlett said.

"And we have not yet hit the Christmas and New Year's spikes," Bartlett said, adding the beginning of that surge is happening now.

Help is on the way with vaccines. Orange County Fire Authority firefighters have been vaccinating frontline workers, but now state officials have widened the pool of available medical workers who can inoculate residents, Bartlett said.

The first health care workers to get their COVID-19 vaccine are getting their second dose, and some health care workers are experiencing aches and pains. Christine Kims reports for the NBC4 News on Sunday, Jan. 10, 20221.

Nursing students and physician assistants are among those who can now vaccinate residents, she added.

"We have a new pool to choose from for vaccinators," she said.

County officials are working on setting up two super sites, which will be announced next week, where vaccines will be distributed. Kim said it is an effort to help out hospitals dole out vaccines as doctors and nurses are too overwhelmed with caring for patients now.

The Orange County Jail's recent outbreak saw a steep decline on Friday with the number of infected inmates dropping from 1,020 to 465. The county is awaiting the results of 979 tests.

The number of hospitalized inmates remained at six, according to Orange County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Dennis Breckner.

Part of the reason the number of infections has come down is OCHCA officials are catching up on analyzing test results, Breckner said.

The county's state-adjusted ICU bed availability remains at zero, and the unadjusted figure is 5.1%. The state created the adjusted metric to reflect the difference in beds available for COVID-19 patients and non-coronavirus patients.

The Southern California region is at zero ICU availability.

The county's availability of ventilators inched up from 33% Thursday to 34%.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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