By CBSLA Staff

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Orange County reported an additional 4,406 cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the cumulative case count to 161,589.

Another 26 fatalities were also reported, bringing the death toll to 1,901.

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Currently, 2,097 patients are hospitalized for the virus, including 501 in ICUs.

The rate of increase in cases and hospitalizations across the county has decreased slightly, but health experts warn that the numbers are still dangerously high and now is not the time for anyone to let their guard down.

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UCI epidemiologist, Dr. Andrew Noymer, says it may be a new year, but it’s still important to take coronavirus precautions.

“Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are now in the rearview mirror,” Dr. Noymer said. “As we saw with Thanksgiving, it can take a few weeks for cases to build.”

The county has still been setting records, reaching over 500 COVID-19 patients in ICUs — the highest since the pandemic began.

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“ICU beds is what predicts mortality. It takes a while like three weeks for the mortality numbers to appear, but we are still in a very serious situation in Orange County,” Dr. Noymer said. “We’ve absolutely seen a huge surge in cases in hospitalizations and ICUs. I expect these to result in a surge of deaths which may not be reported until February or even early March when we have the numbers.”