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Orange County COVID-19 Hospitalizations Continue At Record Pace

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Hospitalizations continued to climb in Orange County Tuesday as nearly 100 more COVID-19 patients were added to the already stressed hospital system.

Hospitalizations increased from 1,709 on Monday to 1,806 on Tuesday and the number of patients in intensive care rose from 380 to 390.

Meanwhile, two additional deaths were reported bringing the county's death toll to 1,779 since the pandemic began.

One of the fatalities was an assisted living facility resident.

Last week, the county reported 80 coronavirus deaths, up from 62 the week before and 41 and 26, respectively, in the two previous weeks. Since Sunday, the county has reported 19 deaths.

Additionally, 2,233 new COVID-19 cases were reported Tuesday bringing the caseload to 130,414.

The county's ICU bed availability remains zero in the "adjusted" metric but dropped from 10.2% Monday in the unadjusted category to 7.5%. The state created the adjusted metric to reflect the difference in beds available for COVID-19 patients and non-coronavirus patients.

The relatively lower number of coronavirus cases reported Tuesday was welcomed news, but the hospitals continued to fill up, Orange County CEO Frank Kim said.

"The concern it's not slowing down and we haven't hit the peak yet," Kim said. "And health officers in other counties when they talk about Christmas they're scared about further acceleration because the current surge hasn't ended."

The county has three mobile field hospitals up now with 50 beds at UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, 25 at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and 25 at Los Alamitos Medical Center.

On Tuesday, St. Joseph Hospital in Orange made the decision to convert a dozen NICU beds for adult use.

Under normal circumstances, the unit is staffed by Children's Hospital Orange County for its critical care pediatric patients, but due to the soaring number of COVID-19 patients, the unit will now begin accepting adults.

"The number of just very sick COVID patients along with other sick patients that are sick with a variety of modalities, that's what's really challenged us and it's been very hard to keep up but we are doing our very best," said Chief Executive of St. Joseph Hospital of Orange Jeremy Zoch.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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