SAN FRANCISCO (KRON/AP) – Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced over 7.4 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in California.

The move ranks the Golden State 6th in the world in vaccine distribution, Newsom added.

California’s death toll during the coronavirus pandemic remains alarmingly high, topping 49,000 this weekend, even as the rates of new infections and hospitalizations continue to plummet across the state.

The number of patients in California hospitals with COVID-19 slipped below 7,000, a drop of more than a third over two weeks, the state Department of Public Health reported Sunday.

The 6,760 new confirmed cases are more than 85% below the mid-December peak of about 54,000. Total cases are approaching 3.45 million.

California reported another 408 deaths, bringing the total since the outbreak began to 49,105 — the highest in the nation.

Despite the grim death count, the positivity rate for people being tested has been falling for weeks, which means fewer people will end up in hospitals.

Epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford with the University of California, San Francisco said one of the reasons why cases are dropping so fast in California “is because of naturally acquired immunity,” mostly in the southern part of the state.

California continues to struggle with vaccine shortages that are hindering efforts to inoculate substantial numbers in the state of nearly 40 million residents.

About 7 million shots have been administered but county vaccination centers aren’t operating close to full capacity because there aren’t enough doses.

The state is shifting to a new vaccine distribution system run by insurer Blue Shield, which will take some decision-making power away from counties.