Kids throughout Orange County are increasingly catching COVID, with some ending up in hospitals, due to the more contagious Delta variant, according to county public health officials.
“The rates of hospitalization for kids is still low, but it is happening,” said Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, deputy county health officer, at a Friday news conference announced abruptly that morning that aimed at informing the public on the status of COVID-19 in OC and the impact of the Delta variant on children.
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“I do know from our summary from July, there were a total of 11 children who were hospitalized, and all of them were unvaccinated,” she said. “So they’re at highest risk especially with this Delta variant that’s highly transmissible.”
Chinsio-Kwong also said 8 kids are currently hospitalized and over 100 children have tested positive for the virus, adding she does not know their vaccination status and their ages.
She said the younger population is at high risk with the highly transmittable Delta variant.
Friday’s news conference, convened by Supervisor Katrina Foley, marks the county’s first general pandemic update county officials have given since December — when the practice was abruptly ended during the height of the Winter wave.
“What I’m alarmed by is the numbers of children who are starting to get hospitalized and testing positive for COVID and that’s different from what we’ve seen over the last 16 months,” Foley said during the news conference.
The COVID update also comes a day after Voice of OC published a story noting that boards of supervisors across all Southern California counties are publicly updated by their health officers on a regular basis, except for Orange County.
Some counties, like Riverside and San Diego, also host separate weekly news conferences to update residents and the media about the pandemic.
Foley said she would be gathering county public health officials on a regular basis going forward to do daily updates in the afternoon as the virus trends worsen throughout Orange County.
Meanwhile, schools are starting to reopen their classrooms and children under the age of 12 are still ineligible to receive the vaccine.
“We do not have [emergency use] authorization for vaccinations for those under 12 but we expect it for after September hopefully sooner but it’s most likely going to be later in the Fall,” Chinsio-Kwong said.
She added the county is following the state health department’s recommendations for a return to schools this fall.
Orange County sits at an 8.6% positivity rate as of Friday, according to state data.
There are 454 people hospitalized, including 71 in intensive care units, according to state data.
That’s more people hospitalized than all nearby counties except for Los Angeles.
Positivity rates across the state have steadily been increasing since the June 15 statewide reopening, when nearly all pandemic restrictions were lifted.
The county was straddling a roughly 1% positivity rate when the reopening hit.
Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC staff reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio
Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.