For the first time since late March 2020, Orange County reported less than 100 daily COVID-19 hospitalizations from May 7 to May 12.
The state’s COVID-19 tracker cited a decrease from 127 hospitalizations on May 1 to 97 on May 7. Most recently, the county recorded 93 hospitalizations on May 12, reporting a net decrease of 3.6% in the metric in the past three days.
Of the 93 hospitalizations, OC reported that 19 of these patients were in the intensive care unit on May 12. 1 or fewer patients are reported to be hospitalized from the prior day total.
According to Andrew Noymer, epidemiologist and associate professor of public health at UC Irvine, this data is a promising step toward mitigating the toll of the pandemic in the OC.
“Hospitalization is the most reliable metric that we deal with,” Noymer said to Los Angeles Times City News Service. “And I’m really pleased to see it below 100. There’s nothing epidemiologically different between 95 and 105, but lower is better and there is a psychology to all of this.”
Data from the county’s dashboard cites that up until May 11, COVID-19 hospitalizations have continuously exceeded 100 since at least March 30, 2020.
Despite the decrease in hospitalizations, lifting COVID-19 restrictions in the OC remains contingent on other health metrics. While the county’s test positivity rate and health equity quartile positivity rate qualify for a transition to the minimal yellow tier of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, its adjusted daily case rate remains in the range of the moderate orange tier.
As of May 12, OC reported an adjusted daily case rate of 1.8 per 100,000 residents, as well as an overall positivity rate of 1% and a positivity rate of 1.2% for the health equity quartile. These metrics meet the state’s necessary qualifications for the yellow tier.
In terms of vaccinations, over 1.7 million Orange County residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of May 12. To immunize more targeted areas of the population, the county recently announced plans to transition from large vaccination Super Points of Dispensing (PODs) to smaller mobile sites.
“In order to best meet the changing needs of those we serve, the County will close its Super POD vaccine sites on June 6 and shift operations to an expanding network of mobile vaccination PODs,” OC Health Care Agency said via Twitter on May 6.
According to Gov. Gavin Newsom, California’s economy could fully reopen as soon as next month, accompanying an elimination of the colored tier system. Achieving this goal is dependent on public health data such as hospitalization rates and available vaccination supply.
Ariana Keshishian is a City News Apprentice for the spring 2021 quarter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.