The number of patients hospitalized with the virus was 2,216, slightly below the record 2,221 people admitted to hospitals Jan. 9. Meantime, an unsurpassed 547 patients were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
Of those reported dead Jan. 10, nine lived in skilled nursing facilities, and 11 were residents of assisted living facilities. One person was a skilled nursing employee.
There were 140 fatalities reported in Orange County last week. The death reports come from a variety of sources, so they’re staggered and happened last month.
There were 17,080 tests reported Jan. 9, raising the cumulative to 2,223,962, according to the OCHCA. There have been 111,854 documented recoveries.
Orange County chief executive Frank Kim, referring to the expected surge of Christmas and New Year’s-related cases, said the current wave of the pandemic is going to get worse.
“People were not behaving around the holidays, so I’m fearful the numbers will be worse,” Kim said. “Our case rates have not come down, and the testing positivity rates are climbing.”
Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said the county had only 41 ICU beds available.
“They are starting to put patients in cath labs and other parts of the hospital,” Bartlett said. “There aren’t available rooms and space so they’re using every single opportunity of space within a hospital environment for patients.”
State officials are pushing hospitals to get patients who are recovering into assisted living facilities or elsewhere to free up hospital beds, Bartlett said.
Hospital officials are also instructing staff on rationed care and to prepare for it, Bartlett said.
“And we have not yet hit the Christmas and New Year’s spikes,” Bartlett said, adding that the beginning of that surge is happening now.
Orange County Fire Authority firefighters have been trained to vaccinate frontline workers, and state officials have recently widened the pool of available medical workers who can inoculate residents, Bartlett said.
Nursing students and physician assistants are among those who can now vaccinate residents, she said.
“We have a new pool to choose from for vaccinators,” she said.
County officials are working on setting up two super sites, which will be announced next week, where vaccines will be distributed. Kim said it’s an effort to help hospitals dole out vaccines as doctors and nurses are too overwhelmed with caring for patients now.
The Orange County Jail’s recent outbreak saw a steep decline on Jan. 8 with the number of infected inmates dropping from 1,020 to 465. The county is awaiting the results of 979 tests.
The number of hospitalized inmates remained at six, according to Orange County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Dennis Breckner.
Part of the reason the number of infections has come down is Health Care Agency officials are catching up on analyzing test results, Breckner said.
The Southern California region is at zero ICU capacity.
Outbreaks at the county’s skilled nursing facilities and elderly assisted living facilities—defined as two or more cases within 14 days—are an ongoing problem for the county. The county has seen 46 outbreaks at skilled nursing facilities and at 28 elderly assisted-living facilities.