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Picket Fence Media will post weekly updates on the compilation of COVID-19 statistics and information, which is reported daily by the Orange County Health Care Agency.

For COVID-19 numbers specifically in Schools and South Orange County, scroll down.

Compiled by Zach Cavanagh

While hospital numbers began to come down from pandemic highs, Orange County’s COVID-19-related death rate continued to rise sharply as the winter coronavirus surge continue to take its toll on Friday, Jan. 15.

The Orange County Health Care Agency reported 3,158 new COVID-19 cases and 82 new coronavirus-related deaths on Friday, which adds up to 24,634 cases and 279 deaths recorded in the last seven days.

San Juan Capistrano recorded eight more deaths this week. Dana Point saw five more deaths this week, with 10 in the last two weeks. San Clemente recorded two deaths this week.

Over the last 30 days, there have been 94,743 cases and 559 deaths in Orange County. In the 30 days previous to that, there were 45,563 cases and 192 deaths, which means there were 49,180 more cases over the last 30 days than the previous and 367 more deaths.

The death rate continues to increase as today’s 30-day number is at 559 – a rise from last week’s 365 and 298 of two weeks ago. There have been 402 coronavirus-related deaths reported in Orange County in 2021.

Cumulatively, there have been 205,911 cases and 2,277 deaths in Orange County since the beginning of the pandemic. The county reported its first cases on March 4, 2020.

While deaths have been on the rise, hospitalizations have declined in recent days.

There were 2,101 hospitalizations reported by the county on Friday, which was a decrease of 158 from a week ago. Friday was the fourth straight day of decrease and sixth in the last seven days since last Friday’s pandemic-high 2,259 hospitalizations. There had been new record highs for county COVID hospitalizations in 33 of 37 days prior to last Friday. The county reported a 2.8% decrease in hospitalizations over the last three days.

Orange County reported 534 ICU patients as of Friday, which is an increase of 20 from one week ago and down from the pandemic-high of 547 on Saturday, Jan. 9. The county’s hospitals remained at a 0% adjusted capacity of the ICU beds currently available. There are 7.2% of total ICU beds available, an increase from last week’s 4.5%. There are 36% of ventilators available.

Where California’s regions stand with the state’s stay-at-home order as of Jan. 12. Graphic: California Department of Public Health

The Southern California region also remained at 0% adjusted available ICU capacity this week. There are 8.1% of total ICU beds available in the region – an increase from last week’s 7.7%. With under 15% adjusted ICU capacity available, Southern California has been under a stay-at-home order since Dec. 6. The order’s initial three-week period passed on Dec. 27, and the state now provides daily updates on its four-week projected available ICU capacity. Once the region is projected above the 15% threshold, the stay-at-home order will be lifted.

As of Friday, the four-week projection does not meet the criteria to exit the order.

Orange County is in the Southern California region which includes the counties of Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura. Southern California (0%), the San Joaquin Valley (0%) and the Bay Area (4.7%) are under regional stay-at-home orders. Greater Sacramento (9.4%) was released from its stay-at-home order on Tuesday, Jan. 12, as its four-week projection allowed. Northern California (17.6%) is the only region that has not entered a stay-at-home order.

The county’s most recently reported seven-day average of new cases from Jan. 6 is 3,001 new cases per day, which is down from the highest of the pandemic on Dec. 19 of 3,357 and 123 more than reported a week ago with 2,878 per day on average from Dec. 30. The seven-day case average is reported on a 14-day lag.

In Orange County, there are 82,469 cases where race or ethnicity is not available or provided, but of the cases where race or ethnicity is known, 43.8% are Hispanic or Latino, 25.27% are white, 16.5% are listed as other, 11.05% are Asian and 1.31% are Black.

Of the 2,277 total deaths, 768 are aged 85 or older, 524 are aged 75-84, 442 are aged 65-74, 303 are aged 55-64, 160 are aged 45-54, 47 are aged 35-44, 27 are aged 25-34, five are aged 18-24 and one is aged under 17. Of the total deaths, 909 are Hispanic or Latino, 799 are white, 426 are Asian and 26 are Black.

The county’s reported estimated amount of recoveries stands at 132,950 cases. The estimated recoveries are based on the previous 28-day’s cumulative case count.

Over the last 30 days, there have been 64,177 recoveries, which is much more than the 30 days prior to that at 12,225.

Orange County remained deep in the state’s purple “substantial” tier – the highest risk level of the state’s four-tiered, color-coded coronavirus monitoring system – in the state’s tier update on Tuesday, Jan. 5. The county’s daily new cases per 100,000 (78.8), countywide testing positivity (19.5%) and health equity positivity rate (24.2%) continued to rise even higher into purple levels

Where California’s counties stand in the state’s four-tiered, color-coded coronavirus monitoring system as of Jan. 12. Graphic: California Department of Public Health

COVID-19 in South OC

Locally in South Orange County, every community continued to see a sharp rise in cases, with Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano seeing a rise in deaths.

San Clemente has 2,249 total cases and 16 total deaths, with 304 cases and two deaths in the last week. The city recorded 1,034 cases and three deaths in the last 30 days, an increase from the 558 cases and the same as the three deaths of the 30 days previous to that.

San Juan Capistrano has 2,193 total cases and 30 total deaths, with 252 cases and eight deaths in the last week. The city has recorded 1,032 cases and 13 deaths in the last 30 days, an increase from the 462 cases and the two deaths of the 30 days previous to that.

Dana Point has 1,122 total cases and 15 total deaths, with 137 cases and five deaths in the last week. The city recorded 505 cases and 11 deaths in the last 30 days, an increase from the 288 cases and no deaths of the 30 days previous to that.

Rancho Mission Viejo has 243 total cases and less than five total deaths, with 24 cases in the last week. The city recorded 106 cases in the last 30 days, an increase from the 51 cases of the 30 days previous to that. As unincorporated land with under 25,000 residents, the exact death total will not be reported for Rancho Mission Viejo until it reaches five, as it was for cases.

COVID-19 in Schools

Orange County continued to update school cases, which saw a large jump as data from earlier weeks was updated.

From Aug. 16 to Jan. 9, there was a cumulative total of 1,839 cases in Orange County schools with 83 reported from Jan. 3-9 and 14 over winter break from Dec. 20-Jan. 2. Of the 1,668 total cases, there were 1,087 student cases, 426 teacher cases and 326 cases among other staff. As of Jan. 9, there were 1,011 cases in elementary and middle schools, 476 cases in high schools, 61 cases in combined K-12 schools and 291 cases in colleges, universities and vocational schools.

The Capistrano Unified School District is reporting cases in each of its schools to an online dashboard. CUSD’s dashboard lists “active” cases on its dashboard, with the case remaining on the dashboard for 14 days from initial symptoms or test date.

In San Clemente, Las Palmas Elementary School, Vista Del Mar Middle School and San Clemente High School each have two cases and Vista Del Mar Elementary School, Truman Benedict Elementary School, Bernice Ayer Middle School and Shorecliffs Middle School each have one case.

In Dana Point, Dana Hills High School has three cases.

In San Juan Capistrano, San Juan Elementary School has eight cases, Del Obispo Elementary School and Marco Forster Middle School each have four cases, Kinoshita Elementary School has three cases, Esencia K-8 and Junipero Serra High School each have one case.

In schools whose boundaries include those cities, John Malcom Elementary School, Moulton Elementary School and Fred Newhart Middle School each have one case, Niguel Hills Middle School and Tesoro High School each have three cases and Capistrano Valley High School has two cases.

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