Orange County reported 1,145 new cases of COVID-19 and 51 additional deaths Saturday, in numbers that cover two days since officials did not report statistics Friday due to the Presidents Day weekend.
The Orange County Health Care Agency said 628 new cases and 25 deaths were logged Friday, and 517 cases and 26 deaths were logged Saturday, bringing the county's totals to 242,144 cases and 3,544 fatalities.
Hospitalizations due to the coronavirus continued to fall, declining from 965 Thursday to 839, with the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care dropping from 298 to 270. Of the 51 newly reported deaths, nine were residents of assisted living facilities, and six were residents of skilled nursing facilities.
Since the pandemic began, 896 skilled nursing facility residents have died, along with 398 residents of assisted living facilities. The death reports are staggered because they come from a variety of sources and are not always logged immediately.
The county's state-adjusted ICU bed availability inched up from zero to 0.6% Thursday, and the unadjusted figure was 12.5% as of Saturday. The state created the adjusted metric to reflect the difference in beds available for COVID-19 patients and non-coronavirus patients.
The county has 56% of its ventilators available.
The adjusted daily case rate per 100,000 people dropped from 39 last Tuesday to 29.7 this week, and the test positivity rate on a seven-day average, with a seven-day lag, dropped from 10.9% last week to 9.4%. The county's Health Equity Quartile Positivity Rate, which measures the cases in highly affected, needier parts of the county, declined from 13.9% last week to 12.4%.
The OCHCA also reported 29,318 more tests Saturday, bringing the total to 2,865,939. There have been 212, 470 documented recoveries.
“The big thing we're waiting for is what Super Bowl gatherings did to us,” Orange County Supervisor Doug Chaffee said late this week. “We won't know that until midway next week. Otherwise, if this good news keeps happening, we might make some move out of the purple tier (soon).”
The numbers for the state's color-coded tier framework are updated on Tuesdays. To move to the less-restrictive red tier from the top, purple tier in the state's coronavirus regulatory system, the county has to improve to 4 to 7 new daily cases per 100,000 and a 5% to 8% positivity rate with a health equity quartile at 5.3% to 8%.
Orange County CEO Frank Kim said, “The testing positivity rate will get there in a few weeks if the trends continue.” But the case rates per 100,000 are still too high, “so we're still a ways off from that,” reaching the red tier, Kim said. “Obviously, my strong interest is not only that the hospital numbers come down, but that they'll have more capacity to do broader vaccinations,” Kim said. “There will come a time when vaccine scarcity will not be an issue and that infrastructure takes time to set up.”