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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.

Compiled by Zach Cavanagh

The winter coronavirus surge continued through the year’s end with the Orange County Health Care Agency’s latest reported numbers on Thursday, Dec. 31.

As the stay-at-home order for the Southern California region was extended on Tuesday, Orange County and the region both remained at a 0% adjusted available ICU capacity this week, and OCHCA reported its 28th straight day of pandemic-high hospitalizations on Wednesday and 22nd straight day of pandemic-high ICU patients on Thursday.

There were 2,128 hospitalizations reported by the county on Thursday, which was the first decrease in cases since Nov. 13 and the first non-record number since Dec. 1. It was an increase of 235 cases from a week ago and 1,439 from 30 days ago. The county reported a 6.7% rise in hospitalizations over the last three days.

Orange County reported 495 ICU patients as of Thursday, which is an increase of 90 from a week ago and 324 from 30 days ago. The previous record before this continued rise was 245 on July 15. The county’s hospitals remained at a 0% adjusted capacity of the ICU beds currently available. There are 5.9% of total ICU beds available. There are 40% of ventilators available.

The Southern California region also remained at 0% adjusted available ICU capacity this week. There are 9.3% of total ICU beds available in the region. 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 Thursday, the four-week projection of demand still exceeds capacity.

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%), the Bay Area (8.5%) and Greater Sacramento (14.4%) are under regional stay-at-home orders. Northern California (34.1%) is the only region not under the order.

Orange County reported 610 new COVID-19 cases and one new coronavirus-related death on Thursday, which adds up to 22,363 cases and 94 deaths in the last seven days.

Over the last 30 days, there have been 77,840 cases and 298 deaths in Orange County. In the 30 days previous to that, there were 19,228 cases and 93 deaths, which means there were 58,612 more cases over the last 30 days than the previous and 205 more deaths. The difference in deaths over each of the previous 30-day periods has flipped as the death rate has increased. The difference between the two periods was 205 more this week and 88 more two weeks ago. The difference was 25 fewer than the previous 30-day period three weeks ago, 92 fewer four weeks ago and 141 fewer five weeks ago.

Cumulatively, there have been 157,183 cases and 1,875 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

The county’s most recently reported seven-day average of new cases from Dec. 20 is 3,333 new cases per day, which is slightly down from the highest of the pandemic on Dec. 19 of 3,357, and 598 more than reported a week ago with 2,735 per day on average from Dec. 13. The previous record before this latest rise was 1,132 cases per day on average on Nov. 25. The seven-day case average is reported on a 14-day lag.

In Orange County, there are 69,070 cases where race or ethnicity is not available or provided, but of the cases where race or ethnicity is known, 44.38% are Hispanic or Latino, 25.99% are white, 15.51% are listed as other, 10.61% are Asian and 1.33% are Black.

Of the 1,875 total deaths, 620 are aged 85 or older, 416 are aged 75-84, 366 are aged 65-74, 256 are aged 55-64, 141 are aged 45-54, 44 are aged 35-44, 26 are aged 25-34, five are aged 18-24 and one is aged under 17. Of the total deaths, 795 are Hispanic or Latino, 643 are white, 342 are Asian and 24 are Black.

The county’s reported estimated amount of recoveries stands at 89,228 cases. The estimated recoveries are based on the previous 28-day’s cumulative case count.

Over the last 30 days, there have been 29,042 recoveries, which is much more than the 30 days prior to that at 6,724

Orange County remained 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 Dec. 8. The county’s daily new cases per 100,000 (53.5), countywide testing positivity (16.9%) and health equity positivity rate (24.2%) continued to rise higher into purple levels.

COVID-19 in South OC

Locally in South Orange County, every community continued to see a sharp rise in cases.

San Clemente has 1,670 total cases and 13 total deaths, with 204 cases and no deaths in the last week. The city recorded 773 cases and two deaths in the last 30 days, an increase from the 265 cases and the same as the two deaths of the 30 days previous to that.

San Juan Capistrano has 1,664 total cases and 19 total deaths, with 249 cases and two deaths in the last week. The city has recorded 785 cases and three deaths in the last 30 days, an increase from the 233 cases and the one death of the 30 days previous to that.

Dana Point has 866 total cases and five total deaths, with 106 cases and no deaths in the last week. The city recorded 434 cases and one death in the last 30 days, an increase from the 118 cases and one death of the 30 days previous to that.

Rancho Mission Viejo has 187 total cases and less than five total deaths, with 18 cases in the last week. The city recorded 80 cases in the last 30 days, an increase from the 29 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.

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