Orange County in Pandemic Holding Pattern in Orange Tier

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Main News Photo

(Orange County Register)

Orange County is in a pandemic holding pattern as three critical coronavirus metrics maintain low altitudes as the mass vaccination campaign grows.

Both the local case rate and share of swab tests coming back positive were unchanged since last week, according to a state Department of Public Health update on April 13.

The county’s case rate held week-to-week at 3 cases per day per 100,000 residents, while testing positivity remained at 1.6%. The health equity metric – testing positivity among hard-hit neighborhoods where access to health care is limited – dipped to 1.8% from 2.1% last week.

To advance to the least-restrictive yellow tier, the county’s case rate would need to drop below 2 cases per 100,000. The testing positivity and health equity metrics already fall within yellow-tier levels.

Even if Orange County’s metrics worsen before mid-June, when state officials plan to phase out the four-tier tracking system, guidelines introduced last week have made it less likely a county would be bumped back to a stricter tier.

“Unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as low rate of vaccine take up, a county will only move to a more restrictive tier if hospitalizations are increasing significantly among vulnerable individuals, especially among vaccinated individuals, and both test positivity and adjusted case rates show a concerning increase in transmission,” California Department of Health officials announced Thursday.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are a small blip on Orange County’s radar compared to the height of the winter surge in early January.

On April 5, 107 coronavirus patients were in hospitals countywide, the lowest tally since the pandemic ramped up one year ago. But patient levels crept back up last week to 125 by Friday before sliding back to 115 on April 12. About a quarter of the sick were in intensive care.

Category: COVID-19, orange county