SANTA ANA, Calif. (CNS) — Orange County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations and infection rates held steady, according to data released Tuesday by the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The county’s COVID-related hospitalizations ticked down from 83 on Saturday to 74 on Monday, with the number of intensive care unit patients ticking up from 11 on Saturday to 13 on Monday.

What You Need To Know

  • Of those hospitalized, 83.2% are unvaccinated, and that rate is at 86.2% in intensive care units

  • The county logged 1,235 more infections from Friday to Monday

  • Two new fatalities increased the death toll to 7,011

  • The omicron subvariants are "in the ballpark" of contagiousness as measles, said UC Irvine professor Andrew Noymer

The county has 29% of its ICU beds available, well above the 20% level when officials become concerned.

Of those hospitalized, 83.2% are unvaccinated, and that rate is at 86.2% in intensive care units. The county has not seen hospitalizations this low since the end of last June, before the delta variant fueled a surge, followed by the omicron variant this winter.

“The numbers don’t look too bad,” Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and UC Irvine professor of population health and disease prevention, told City News Service Tuesday.

“I think 100 will be significant,” Noymer added. “And I think 200 would be really worrisome.”

Infections are rising in the northeast portion of the nation, Noymer noted, and that portends a pattern seen in the past.

“What we’ve seen before is when cases go up in the northeast, they go up,” on the West Coast, Noymer said.

The daily case rate per 100,000 people in Orange County increased from 6.7 as of Friday to 8.4 Tuesday on a seven-day average with seven-day lag, and from 4.3 to 5.5 for the adjusted rate with a seven-day average and seven-day lag.

The testing positivity rate went from 2.3% to 2.7% overall and from 0.9% to 1.2% in the health equity quartile, which measures the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

Those statistics can be deceiving, Noymer said.

“With testing so far down and people doing at-home tests, hospitalizations is some of the only data we have,” Noymer said.

The county logged 1,235 more infections from Friday to Monday, raising the cumulative case count to 554,229. Two new fatalities increased the death toll to 7,011.

The fatalities occurred on April 24 and April 22. They raised the death toll for the month to 24 so far.

March’s death toll stood at 84, February’s death toll stands at 327, and at 554 in January and 115 in December.

The case rate per 100,000 for fully vaccinated residents who have received a vaccine booster decreased from 9.1 on April 22 to 8.3 on April 29.

The case rate for fully vaccinated residents with no booster increased from 4.9 to 5.1, and the case rate for residents not fully vaccinated decreased from 8.5 to 8, according to data released Tuesday.

The number of vaccines administered in Orange County increased from 2,301,942 last week to 2,304,729 this week, according to Tuesday’s data.

That number includes an increase from 2,161,026 to 2,164,061 residents who have received the two-dose regimen of vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna.

The number of residents receiving the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine decreased from 140,916 to 140,668 as officials continue to adjust to a new accounting of shots administered in the counties across the state.

Booster shots increased from 1,274,022 last week to 1,280,690.

In the most recently eligible age group of 5 to 11 years old, the number of children vaccinated increased from 89,318 to 89,800, versus 178,780 who have not been vaccinated. It’s the least-vaccinated age group in Orange County.

“The urgency is gone, the message from the government isn’t vaccinate, vaccinate anymore,” Noymer said.

Vaccines are still the best way to protect against severe illness and hospitalization, Noymer said.

“If we’re talking about protection from infection at all, they’re clearly waning,” Noymer said. “But with protection from severe infection, they have staying power.

“The devil is in the details in terms of you can still get a bad cold but it will be COVID if you’re vaccinated, and the bad news is you can still spread it. But are you likely to be on a ventilator in a hospital? That’s much less. Vaccines are still holding their ground, but not for transmission.”

The omicron subvariants are “in the ballpark” of contagiousness as measles, Noymer said.

Noymer said he was “very disappointed” the mRNA vaccines have not been upgraded to tackle the subvariants.