Story at a glance

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday said the state distributed 5,000 newly purchased body bags to San Diego, Los Angeles and Inyo counties.
  • Sixty 53-foot refrigerated storage units are on standby in counties and at hospitals.

As COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out across the country this week, California is experiencing its “most intense” coronavirus surge to date. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Tuesday said the state distributed 5,000 newly purchased body bags to San Diego, Los Angeles and Inyo counties, and has 60 53-foot refrigerated storage units on standby in counties and at hospitals, as the rates of hospitalizations spike. 


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“There is a light at the end of the tunnel — but we are still in the tunnel,” Newsom said Tuesday during a news briefing. “We’re going through perhaps the most intense and urgent moment since the beginning of this pandemic.” 

California reported 32,326 new cases Tuesday and has a 14-day average positivity rate of 10.7 percent. That’s a significant increase from the 6.9 percent positivity rate reported just two weeks ago. The state reported 142 new deaths Tuesday with a seven-day average of 163 deaths as of Monday. Newsom emphasized that the average was 41 just one month ago. 

“This is a deadly disease, and we need to be mindful of where we are,” Newsom said. 

Over the last two weeks, hospitalizations have increased by 68 percent, and intensive care unit admissions have jumped 54 percent. 

The San Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions currently have less than 2 percent ICU capacity while the state ICU availability is at 5.7 percent. San Joaquin Valley, Southern California and the greater Sacramento areas are under regional stay-at-home orders. The new restrictions prohibit nonessential travel and require people to stay home to curb the spread of the virus. It also bans restaurants from both outdoor and indoor dining. 

The stark numbers come as the state began administering the first doses of Pfizer’s vaccine Monday. Newsom said nearly 394,000 more doses could arrive in the state next week on top of the nearly 328,000 being distributed at 33 locations this week. 


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Published on Dec 16, 2020