Category Archives: California

California Covid-19 Update: Governor Gavin Newsom Orders 5,000 Body Bags, Refrigerated Units For Coroners As State Prepares For Surge In Deaths

California has refrigerators, body bags on standby as vaccine finally arrives

ABC7 News, by Alix Martichoux, December 15, 2020
(Click the image to go to ABC7 news video with 2:33 minute commercial…)

There may be light at the end of the tunnel, Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged Tuesday, but it’s a very, very dark tunnel.

California has placed an order for 5,000 additional body bags and has 60 53-foot refrigerators on standby at hospitals around the state. This comes as daily coronavirus deaths are four times higher than they were one month ago.

“We’re going through perhaps the most intense and urgent moment since the beginning of this pandemic,” Newsom said.  (See full length Newsom news conference on Youtube video.)

To combat this third and biggest surge of COVID-19, California is establishing medical overflow facilities and upping intensive care staffing.

The first 33,150 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have arrived in California and more are on the way this week, Newsom said. If the Moderna vaccine is authorized, Newsom anticipates the state will receive 2.1 million doses of both vaccines by the end of the month.

The first phase of vaccinations (called Phase 1A) includes health care workers and residents at long-term care settings, which is a population of about 3 million people. Phase 1B is a larger group of people, about 8 million Californians, and includes farm workers, grocery workers and teachers. Who among those 8 million is next in line is actively being discussed by the state, Newsom said.

It’s been “a very optimistic 48 hours,” the governor said, however the arrival of the vaccine is too little too late to help combat this winter surge of cases and hospitalizations.

The state saw 32,326 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours and intensive care units are starting to become overloaded.

As a region’s ICU capacity drops below 15%, it is required to implement a stay-at-home order.

The latest ICU capacity by region is:

  •  Bay Area: 15.8% 
  • Greater Sacramento: 14.9%
  • Northern California: 29.8%
  • San Joaquin Valley: 1.6%
  • Southern California: 1.7%

Here is Governor Newsom’s 1-hour 20-minute news conference on 12/15/20:

DAILY UPDATE link for California ICU bed availability BY REGION

By Roger Straw, December 5, 2020, updated Dec 7, 2020

The State of California is now posting a readily available DAILY UPDATE on California’s REGIONAL ICU hospital bed availability.  This is super important as a 15% level is the trigger for the state’s Dec. 3 Stay At Home Order.  Save this link for future use: will need to scroll down to “Regional Stay Home Order”).

Below is the most current data from

EARLIER VERSION FOR COMPARISON:  Below you will find the map and the listing from December 5:

SAHO ICU bed % available as of December 5, 2020 for the 5 regions:

Northern California 24.1%
Bay Area 21.7%
Greater Sacramento 21.4%
San Joaquin Valley 8.6%
Southern California 12.5%


SAHO is short for Stay At Home Order.

I will try to find out and post here the usual time of day when the numbers are updated.  Stay tuned.


NY Times: California is experiencing the largest surge since the beginning of the pandemic

California reeling

Perhaps no state has faced more ups and downs during the pandemic than California.
New Cases in California, The New York Times
New York Times Coronavirus Briefing, December 1, 2020

In the spring, California had some of the earliest outbreaks and was the first state to issue a stay-at-home order. By summer, many Californians thought the worst was behind them, only to see an explosion of cases at the end of June. The number of infections dropped, then plateaued, before skyrocketing again this fall.

Now California is experiencing the largest surge since the beginning of the pandemic with an average of nearly 15,000 new cases a day.

Despite already having some of the most restrictive virus measures in the country, Gov. Gavin Newsom said yesterday that the state might have to take “drastic action” to slow the spread of the virus, including full stay-at-home orders, which could come within the next couple of days.

Already, 99 percent of residents are living under an overnight curfew that bars them from leaving their homes for nonessential trips after 10 p.m. Los Angeles recently went further and banned gatherings with other households, while a ban on contact sports in Santa Clara County has forced the San Francisco 49ers to play home games in Arizona.

Still, the numbers continue to soar. Governor Newsom warned that with so many sick patients, intensive care units could be overloaded by the middle of December, and its hospitals could be dangerously close to full by Christmas. The state is also facing a shortage of nurses.

As my colleagues Thomas Fuller and Manny Fernandez report, despite its size and economic power, California has one of the nation’s lowest number of hospital beds relative to its population, with just 1.8 hospital beds per 1,000 people. California has one-third the number of beds per capita of, for example, Poland, and only two states have fewer beds for residents, Washington and Oregon.
With the pandemic raging across the country, California may not be able to rely on other states for its disaster planning, as it did when thousands of firefighters traveled to put out its mega-fires.

“You have to think of this as a natural disaster, like an earthquake — there’s a lot of need for hospitalization,” said George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco. “But the difference here is that it’s happening across the country. We can’t send people to Reno, Phoenix or Tucson. We’re stuck.”