California reports record virus death count as cases spiral as committees determine who gets vaccine

Virus Outbreak Vaccine California
Virus Outbreak Vaccine California
Virus Outbreak Vaccine California
Virus Outbreak Vaccine California
COVID-19 Vaccine
Virus Outbreak Vaccine California
Virus Outbreak Vaccine California
Posted at 3:22 PM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 18:29:42-05

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California reported more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases and 293 deaths, setting new records as hospitals struggled to keep up with the surge.

State health officials said Wednesday a change in data processing added 12,630 previous cases to the count, but the new virus cases remained a daily record.

The state has been grappling with soaring cases and hospitalizations.

Most of California’s 40 million residents are under stay-at-home orders because of dwindling intensive care unit capacity.

Hospitals are filling up so fast that officials are rolling out mobile field facilities and scrambling to hire more doctors and nurses.

Meanwhile, a pair of advisory committees is making potential life-and-death decisions starting Wednesday over who’s next in line for scarce coronavirus vaccines. It's considering whether groups like teachers, farmworkers, grocery workers — even ride-hailing drivers and reporters — should be among them.

Each has its constituency lobbying to be included among about 8 million California residents who will be selected for the second round of vaccines early next year.

Rules for distributing the first batch of vaccinations that began this week were earlier recommended by the same two committees. They're now meeting to decide who will get the inoculations under what’s known as Phase 1b.

At the same time, the first COVID-19 vaccinations are underway at U.S. nursing homes, where the virus has killed upwards of 110,000 people, even as the nation struggles to contain a surge so alarming that California is dispensing thousands of body bags and lining up refrigerated morgue trailers.

In Washington, lawmakers are closing in on a long-stalled coronavirus relief package that would send direct payments of perhaps $600 to most Americans.

Meanwhile, the U.S. appears to be days away from adding a second vaccine to its arsenal. At the same time, a major snowstorm pushing its way into the Northeast is raising fears it could disrupt distribution of the vaccine.