By CBSLA Staff

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Orange County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases continued to decline Wednesday, but the county reported 37 additional deaths.

The county also reported 546 new cases Wednesday bringing the caseload 234,708 cases and 3,199 deaths.

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Of the deaths reported Wednesday, one was an assisted living facility resident, bringing the total to 348.

The number of people hospitalized with coronavirus dropped from 1,330 on Tuesday to 1,298 on Wednesday as the number of patients in intensive care lowered from 370 to 363, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The county’s state-adjusted ICU bed availability remains at zero, and the unadjusted figure increased from 10% Tuesday to 12.2%.

The adjusted daily case rate per 100,000 people dropped from 46.6 last week to 39 on Tuesday, and the test positivity rate on a seven-day average, with a seven-day lag, dropped from 12.9% to 10.9%.

To move to the less-restrictive red tier from the top purple tier in the state’s coronavirus regulatory system, the county has to improve to 4 to 7 new daily cases per 100,000 and a 5% to 8% positivity rate with a health equity quartile at 5.3% to 8%.

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“Look at the hospital numbers, that’s a dramatic drop,” Orange County CEO Frank Kim said Tuesday. “The ICU numbers are on an accelerating downward path, which is good.”

Kim said the county’s positivity rate has declined nearly 50% since its peak Jan. 10.

He also said he was encouraged by news from the county’s lobbyist that the federal government will begin sending a million doses of vaccine weekly to the nation’s largest pharmacy chains, starting Feb. 11.

“To me, this is big news,” Kim said. “This kind of restores the order in how people access health care. We’re holding up this gap that currently exists, but ultimately vaccinations should happen through traditional health care delivery systems.”

County officials expect that Johnson & Johnson will seek emergency authorization next week for its one-dose vaccine, which could be available by mid-month, Kim said.

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