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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

UCI Epidemiologist: Covid Peak ‘Going Down’

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The New York Times reported Thursday 3,906 new coronavirus cases in Orange County, compared to 11,533 new cases reported last Thursday.

 

Numbers vary from site to site; the OCHCA reported Thursday 6,532 new cases.

Both data sets indicate a peak beginning late last week.

 

“It looks like our peak may have been earlier this week or late last week and we now may be coming down, albeit coming down from an extremely high level,” Dr. Susan Huang, epidemiologist at UC Irvine, told the Business Journal.

 

“While it’s reassuring to see a downward trend, we will stay extremely high for a long time. We are still sky high because Omicron is so contagious.”

 

Hospitalizations

 

The Orange County Health Care Agency reported Tuesday 1,232 hospitalizations, including 207 ICU patients, representing the most reported patients hospitalized with COVID since last year’s peak. 

 

Over the last several weeks, UCI Medical Center reported its number of COVID patients has hovered between the “high 90s and low 100s.” Over 90% of those hospitalized are unvaccinated, the university reported.

 

On Thursday alone, UCI Medical Center counted 106 COVID admissions, including 30 in the ICU. Six of the 106 are vaccinated.

 

Compared to the winter surge, the number of hospitalizations is still lower, the hospital said.

 

Pfizer Pill

 

In December, Pfizer received FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Paxlovid, a Covid treatment pill designed to minimize the impact on people infected with the virus.

 

 Laboratory tests indicate the pill is also effective against the Omicron variant. 

 

So far, UCI Health said it has not received any Paxlovid from the California Department of Public Health, the agency charged with distributing it in the state. 

 

“For the immunosuppressed, Omicron is a harrowing experience,” Huang said. “These medications are really important for their protection. For now, it’s a scarce commodity. We hope Pfizer distributes a much larger quantity to make it a solution.”

Audrey Kemp
Audrey Kemp
Audrey Kemp is a staff reporter and occasional photojournalist for the Orange County Business Journal. Her beats include — but are not limited to — healthcare, startups, and education. While pursuing her bachelors in literary journalism at UC Irvine, she interned for New York-based magazine Narratively Inc., wrote for Costa Mesa-based lifestyle magazine Locale, and covered the underground music scene for two SoCal-based music publications. She is an unwavering defendant of the emdash and the Oxford comma.

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