Over the span of just one week, Orange County has added almost 300 deaths from the coronavirus.
The OC Health Care Agency’s daily tracker listed 43 new deaths on Saturday, Jan. 16, for a total of 2,320 known COVID-related fatalities. The day before, Friday, the county reported a one-day record of 82 fatalities.
However, offering some hope that new infections might be leveling off for now, Orange County tallied more than 700 fewer new coronavirus cases Saturday than a week before – down from 4,204 to 3,454.
Reported deaths do not represent a particular day’s true sum. The county’s data is compiled from death certificates or gathered through the course of case investigations, so the deaths may have occurred days or weeks before.
Three of the deaths reported Saturday were skilled nursing facility residents, and two were residents of assisted living facilities.
Since tracking began, the county has verified 209,365 coronavirus cases in all.
While the vast majority of people testing positive experience milder symptoms, 542 patients with coronavirus were in intensive care units as of Saturday – five fewer than last Sunday’s daily record of 547.
With the surge in cases after Thanksgiving and then Christmas gatherings, hospitals have struggled to meet the drastically increased demand – adding temporary units in parking lots to house extra beds.
Overstretched medical employees are working longer shifts and assuming the care of more patients than normal protocol would allow.
Both hospitals and funeral homes have employed trailers with freezers to store a surplus bodies.
The county’s state-adjusted ICU bed availability remains at zero, although that doesn’t mean that all ICU beds are occupied.
The California Department of Public Health’ takes the actual percentage of remaining adult ICU beds each day and tweaks it to reflect the lopsided share of COVID-19 patients in intensive care compared to others who also need those beds for life-saving treatment.
The unadjusted ICU bed availability for Southern California was reported to be 8.9% on Saturday.