California sees the light at the end of a "very dark tunnel"

Posted at 12:19 PM, Dec 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-15 16:41:13-05

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KERO) — With the arrival of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to the state, California can see a light at the end of the tunnel, but Gov. Gavin Newsom said this is a sober moment.

"We want to be optimistic," Newsom said. "But let's deal with some sober realities."

Newsom announced Tuesday that in the last 24 hours, 142 people reportedly died from COVID-19. He said that California has placed an order for 5,000 additional body bags and has 60 53-foot refrigerators on standby at hospitals around the state.

California Health & Human Services Agency Secretary Doctor Mark Ghaly said that Californians who are 60 years or old make up just under 14% of total COVID-19 cases yet make up 80% of deaths.

"We are in the middle of the most acute peak as it relates to what we call the third wave. The third and what we hope is the final wave of this disease," Newsom said.

To combat this ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases, California is establishing medical overflow facilities and upping intensive care staffing. Newsom discussed new COVID-19 quarantine guidelines for healthcare workers who have been exposed to COVID-19. These include quarantining for 10 days instead of 14 and seven days for critical staffing shortages.

Newsom also said the state is adjusting the nurse to patient ratios from 1:2 to 1:3 to help with staffing shortages.

The state saw 32,326 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours. Newsom said the state is averaging over 32,000 new cases a day.

Meanwhile, on Monday the state received its first round of Pfizer vaccine doses. 33,150 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in California with an additional 393,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine as early as next week, Newsom said. The state is waiting for Moderna's vaccine to be granted FDA approval but is already expecting 672,000 doses by the end of December.

However, the arrival of the vaccine comes at a time when ICU capacities are already in critical condition. Over the weekend the San Joaquin Valley was at 0% for ICU capacity and on Tuesday Newsom announced it was only back up to 1.6%, the lowest in the state. Southern California is trailing behind the SJV with 1.7% capacity.

Doctor Ghaly said that he expects it will be an estimated 45 to 60 days before our hospital system sees any kind of relief.

"What we are really preparing for is two weeks from now." He said. "But the decision starts today."