By CBSLA Staff

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — A record was set recently for daily deaths reported in Orange County, but some health care workers say they are now seeing some signs of improvements locally while acknowledging there are still tough days expected ahead.

Orange County health officials on Sunday reported 1,448 new cases of coronavirus and 47 additional deaths.

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New coronavirus numbers were not released on Monday due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, but the weekend numbers were somewhat promising.

At last check, countywide totals were 210,813 cases and 2,367 fatalities in the O.C.

Hospitalizations were down from 2,065 on Saturday to 2,026 on Sunday, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

Coronavirus ICU patients also slightly dropped from 547 to 538, but hospital resources still remain at risk as coronavirus cases rise, with 36% of O.C. ventilators available.

Newport Beach emergency doctor Eric Alcouloumre reported a change too at Hoag Hospital, where he works.

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While there are still many sick people, the doctor says the rush of patients is slightly slowing down.

“What we’re seeing unexpectedly is a drop in the number of new cases that are coming into hospital and requiring admission. At the same time, up until today, we’re seeing creeping up more cases going into the ICU. There’s still a lot of sick people that we have been seeing and expect to see in the coming weeks,” Dr. Alcouloumre said.

As Dr. Alcouloumre takes another shift in the emergency department on MLK Jr. Day, he’s hoping he’s seeing the last of the patients from the New Year’s holiday surge who need to be admitted to intensive care.

Unfortunately, more deaths are expected and officials continue to urge residents to remain vigilant in taking precautions against the virus.

“Although we may see hospitalizations dropping — and again, it’s only been a few days — we don’t know if it’s just a statistical blip. And the optimistic side of me says yeah, we’re on the way down, but what happens at that same time is the ICU cases will increase. As ICU rates increase, the death rates will increase to follow, so I think we’re still expecting to see a rising number of deaths between now and the middle of February,” Alcouloumre said.

According to the doctor, some of the worst is yet to come, but over the next week or two, he expects a decrease in the number of hospitalizations and then a decline in the need for ICU beds, which will take the pressure off of the hospitals and the staff.

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