Coronavirus Metrics in Orange County Continue to Improve

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

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(Orange County Register)

Three key metrics tracking COVID-19’s spread in Orange County all inched downward this week, rounding out a full month of case and test positivity rates simmering around all-time pandemic lows.

A state Department of Public Health update April 20, showed Orange County’s case rate has dipped from 3 cases per day per 100,000 residents last week to 2.8 cases per 100,000, this week – matching a recent low point reached March 30.

The share of positive nasal swab and saliva tests – down to 1.4% from 1.6% last week – has never been better. Testing positivity among the county’s low-income and hard-hit areas – known as the health equity metric – also fell to 1.7% from 1.8% last week, a new depth since neighborhood-level monitoring began in October.

Orange County will remain in the orange tier of the state’s four-tier system of pandemic rules until the case rate falls below 2 cases per 100,000 residents for two weeks straight, qualifying the county for the least restrictive yellow tier.

But state leaders plan to scrap the tiers – which since August have determined which businesses and public places could reopen in which counties – on June 15, if vaccine supplies keep up with demand and coronavirus hospitalizations stay low.

Though much has returned to semi-normal, public health officials and experts are urging Orange County residents to keep up coronavirus routines – masking, distancing, diligent hand washing – until more people are vaccinated.

Epidemiologist Andrew Noymer, a professor of public health at UC Irvine, said Orange County’s COVID-19 levels are looking good.

“I believe the summer is going to be OK in California, because we are vaccinating like crazy right now and we’re in a lull in transmission,” Noymer said, but in a pandemic that has been full of twists and turns, nothing is guaranteed.

Noymer said he’s eyeing coronavirus hospitalizations, which have crept up from recent lows.

Patients with the coronavirus among the county’s 33 hospitals rose from just 107 on April 7 to 135 on April 15, indicating that some continue to develop bad enough cases to seek emergency care.

Still, coronavirus patient counts among local hospitals over the past week hovered within ranges that haven’t been seen since early April 2020, when the pandemic was barely starting to gain momentum. By Tuesday, countywide hospitalizations fell again to 113.

Category: COVID-19, orange county