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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 Orange County Health Care Agency reported its ninth straight day of pandemic-high hospitalizations, second straight day of pandemic-high ICU patients and 22 deaths as the winter coronavirus surge continued on Friday, Dec. 11.

Orange County reported 1,122 new COVID-19 cases and 22 new coronavirus-related deaths on Friday, which adds up to 14,415 cases and 59 deaths in the last seven days.

Over the last 30 days, there have been 34,137 cases and 148 deaths in Orange County. In the 30 days previous to that, there were 7,273 cases and 173 deaths, which means there were 26,864 more cases over the last 30 days than the previous, but 25 fewer deaths. However, that difference in deaths over each of the previous 30-day periods is shrinking as the death rate has increased. The 25-death difference was 92 last week and 141 the week before.

Cumulatively, there have been 97,302 cases and 1,662 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

The county’s most recently reported seven-day average of new cases from Nov. 28 is 1,052 new cases per day, which is 95 more than reported a week ago with 957 per day on average from Nov. 21. The previous record was 1,129 cases per day on average on Nov. 25. The seven-day case average is reported on a 14-day lag.

There were 1,122 hospitalizations reported by the county on Friday, which is an increase of 376 cases from a week ago and 878 from 30 days ago. The county reported a 16.8% rise in hospitalizations over the last three days.

Orange County reported 265 ICU patients as of Friday, which is an increase of 70 from a week ago and 182 from 30 days ago. Thursday’s number of 257 was the most since the previous record of 245 on July 15. In the county’s hospitals, there are is a 2.3% adjusted capacity of the ICU beds currently available and 10.7% of total ICU beds available. There are 54% of ventilators available.

Beginning on Wednesday, the ICU capacity available began being reported with adjusted and unadjusted numbers. According to the OCHCA, the adjusted number is being used “to preserve the capacity of the ICU to also treat non-COVID-19 conditions. …  If a disproportionate number of ICU beds are being utilized to treat COVID-19 patients, then patients with non-COVID medical issues may not be receiving or be able to receive the level of care they need.”

If a region is using more than 30% of its ICU beds for COVID-19 patients, an extra 0.5% is removed in the adjusted capacity for every 1% over that 30% threshold to preserve those necessary resources and beds.

With a 6.2% adjusted available ICU capacity and a 15% unadjusted available capacity, Orange County and Southern California remained under a regional stay-at-home orders for regions whose available ICU capacities fall under 15%. 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.

In Orange County, there are 39,066 cases where race or ethnicity is not available or provided, but of the cases where race or ethnicity is known, 47.1% are Hispanic or Latino, 26.1% are white, 13.47% are listed as other, 9.78% are Asian and 1.3% are Black.

Of the 1,662 total deaths, 549 are aged 85 or older, 365 are aged 75-84, 324 are aged 65-74, 230 are aged 55-64, 124 are aged 45-54, 41 are aged 35-44, 24 are aged 25-34, four are aged 18-24 and one is aged under 17. Of the total deaths, 708 are Hispanic or Latino, 562 are white, 299 are Asian and 23 are Black.

The county’s reported estimated amount of recoveries stands at 64,716 cases. The estimated recoveries are based on the previous 28-day’s cumulative case count.

Over the last 30 days, there have been 9,157 recoveries, which is much more than the 30 days prior to that at 5,612.

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 Tuesday, Dec. 8. The county’s daily new cases per 100,000 (30.3), countywide testing positivity (10.6%) and health equity positivity rate (16.2%) 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 1,109 total cases and 13 total deaths, with 172 cases and one death in the last week. The city recorded 457 cases and three deaths in the last 30 days, an increase from the 97 cases and decrease from the four deaths of the 30 days previous to that.

San Juan Capistrano has 1,039 total cases and 18 total deaths, with 125 cases and two deaths in the last week. The city has recorded 362 cases and three deaths in the last 30 days, an increase from the 103 cases and two deaths of the 30 days previous to that.

Dana Point has 526 total cases and four total deaths, with 75 cases and no deaths in the last week. The city recorded 214 cases and no deaths in the last 30 days, an increase from the 27 cases and a decrease from one death of the 30 days previous to that.

Rancho Mission Viejo has 121 total cases and less than five total deaths, with 11 cases in the last week. The city recorded 39 cases in the last 30 days, an increase from the 10 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 Dec. 5, there was a cumulative total of 810 cases in Orange County schools with 35 reported Nov. 29-Dec. 5 and 18 from Nov. 22-28. Of the 810 total cases, there were 506 student cases, 125 teacher cases and 179 cases among other staff. As of Nov. 28, there were 429 cases in elementary and middle schools, 199 cases in high schools, 30 cases in combined K-12 schools and 152 cases in colleges, universities and vocational schools.

The Capistrano Unified School District also recently began 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, Truman Benedict Elementary School, Vista Del Mar Elementary School and Shorecliffs Middle School each have one case, Bernice Ayer Middle School has four cases and San Clemente High School has four cases

In Dana Point, Palisades Elementary School has three cases and Dana Hills High School has five cases.

In San Juan Capistrano, Ambuehl Elementary School has three cases, Kinoshita Elementary School, Marco Forster Middle School and Serra High School each have one case and San Juan Hills High School has four cases. In schools whose boundaries include those cities, Niguel Hills Middle School, Fred Newhart Middle School and Tesoro High School each have one case and Capistrano Valley High School has three cases.

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