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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.

For COVID-19 numbers specifically in Schools and South Orange County, scroll down.

Compiled by Zach Cavanagh

Last week’s trends of rising COVID-19-related death rate and decreasing hospitalizations continued in Orange County this week as the county comes down on the other side of the winter coronavirus surge.

The Orange County Health Care Agency reported 892 new COVID-19 cases and one new coronavirus-related death on Friday, Jan. 22, which adds up to 12,830 cases and 270 deaths recorded in the last seven days. There were 24,634 cases and 279 deaths in the previous seven days.

Dana Point saw another five deaths this week, with five each of the previous two weeks, as well. San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano each recorded three deaths this week.

Over the last 30 days, there have been 83,921 cases and 766 deaths in Orange County. In the 30 days previous to that, there were 63,704 cases and 227 deaths, which means there were 20,217 more cases over the last 30 days than the previous and 539 more deaths.

The death rate continues to increase as today’s 30-day number is at 766 – a rise from last week’s 559, the 365 of two weeks ago, and 298 of three weeks ago. There have been 672 coronavirus-related deaths reported in Orange County in 2021.

Cumulatively, there have been 218,741 cases and 2,547 deaths in Orange County since the beginning of the pandemic. The county reported its first cases on March 4, 2020.

While the death rate continues to rise, hospitalizations have continued to decline in recent days.

There were 1,896 hospitalizations reported by the county on Friday, which was a decrease of 205 from a week ago and of 363 from two weeks ago. Friday was the third straight day of decrease and 12th in the last 14 days since a pandemic-high 2,259 hospitalizations on Jan. 8. There had been new record highs for county COVID hospitalizations in 33 of 37 days prior to Jan. 8. The county reported a 3.2% decrease in hospitalizations over the last three days.

Orange County reported 516 ICU patients as of Friday, which is an decrease of 18 from one week ago and down from the pandemic-high of 547 on Saturday, Jan. 9. The county’s hospitals remained at a 0% adjusted capacity of the ICU beds currently available. There are 9.6% of total ICU beds available, an increase from last week’s 7.2% and the 4.5% of two weeks ago. There are 35% of ventilators available.

Where California’s regions stand with the state’s stay-at-home order as of Jan. 19. Graphic: California Department of Public Health

The Southern California region also remained at 0% adjusted available ICU capacity this week. There are 9.3% of total ICU beds available in the region – an increase from last week’s 8.1% and the 7.7% of two weeks ago. With under 15% adjusted ICU capacity available, Southern California has been under a stay-at-home order since Dec. 6. The order’s initial three-week period passed on Dec. 27, and the state now provides daily updates on its four-week projected available ICU capacity. Once the region is projected above the 15% threshold, the stay-at-home order will be lifted.

As of Friday, the four-week projection does not meet the criteria to exit the order.

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.

Southern California (0%), the San Joaquin Valley (0%) and the Bay Area (6.5%) are under regional stay-at-home orders. Greater Sacramento (7.8%) was released from its stay-at-home order on Tuesday, Jan. 12, as its four-week projection allowed. Northern California (32.6%) is the only region that has not entered a stay-at-home order.

The county’s most recently reported seven-day average of new cases from Jan. 13 is 2,703 new cases per day, which is down from the highest of the pandemic on Dec. 19 of 3,357 and 298 fewer than reported a week ago with 3,001 per day on average from Jan. 6. The seven-day case average is reported on a 14-day lag.

In Orange County, there are 85,217 cases where race or ethnicity is not available or provided, but of the cases where race or ethnicity is known, 44.16% are Hispanic or Latino, 24.87% are white, 16.29% are listed as other, 11.21% are Asian and 1.3% are Black.

Of the 2,547 total deaths, 876 are aged 85 or older, 576 are aged 75-84, 488 are aged 65-74, 340 are aged 55-64, 177 are aged 45-54, 54 are aged 35-44, 30 are aged 25-34, five are aged 18-24 and one is aged under 17. Of the total deaths, 991 are Hispanic or Latino, 896 are white, 474 are Asian and 27 are Black.

The county’s reported estimated amount of recoveries stands at 150,088 cases. The estimated recoveries are based on the previous 28-day’s cumulative case count.

Over the last 30 days, there have been 73,012 recoveries, which is much more than the 30 days prior to that at 18,974.

Orange County remained deep 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, Jan. 19. However, the county’s daily new cases per 100,000 (67.1), countywide testing positivity (16.7%) and health equity positivity rate (21.2%) all showed decent decreases this week.

Where California’s counties stand in the state’s four-tiered, color-coded coronavirus monitoring system as of Jan. 19. Graphic: California Department of Public Health

COVID-19 in South OC

Locally in South Orange County, every community continued to see a sharp rise in cases, with Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano seeing a rise in deaths.

San Clemente has 2,430 total cases and 19 total deaths, with 181 cases and three deaths in the last week. The city recorded 974 cases and six deaths in the last 30 days, an increase from the 706 cases and two deaths of the 30 days previous to that.

San Juan Capistrano has 2,390 total cases and 33 total deaths, with 197 cases and three deaths in the last week. The city has recorded 985 cases and six deaths in the last 30 days, an increase from the 648 cases and one death of the 30 days previous to that.

Dana Point has 1,211 total cases and 20 total deaths, with 89 cases and five deaths in the last week. The city recorded 451 cases and 15 deaths in the last 30 days, an increase from the 388 cases and one death of the 30 days previous to that.

Rancho Mission Viejo has 260 total cases and less than five total deaths, with 17 cases in the last week. The city recorded 91 cases in the last 30 days, an increase from the 75 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 Jan. 16, there was a cumulative total of 2,118 cases in Orange County schools with 31 reported from Jan. 10-16 and 290 from Jan. 3-9. Of the 2,118 total cases, there were 1,229 student cases, 490 teacher cases and 399 cases among other staff. As of Jan. 16, there were 1,174 cases in elementary and middle schools, 559 cases in high schools, 66 cases in combined K-12 schools and 319 cases in colleges, universities and vocational schools.

The Capistrano Unified School District is 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, Bernice Ayer Middle School has four cases, Truman Benedict Elementary School has two cases, and Vista Del Mar Middle School and Vista Del Mar Elementary School each have one case.

In Dana Point, Dana Hills High School has four cases, R.H. Dana Elementary School has two cases and R.H. Dana ENF and Palisades Elementary School each have one case.

In San Juan Capistrano, San Juan Elementary School has five cases, Del Obispo Elementary School has four cases, San Juan Hills High School has three cases, Kinoshita Elementary School has two cases and Ambuehl Elementary School and Marco Forster Middle School each have one case.

In schools whose boundaries include those cities, Niguel Hills Middle School has six cases, Tesoro High School has three cases, Moulton Elementary School and Viejo Elementary School each have two cases, John Malcom Elementary School and Capistrano Valley High School each have one case.

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