Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Tuesday that a total of 5,000 body bags had been distributed to the counties of Los Angeles, San Diego and Inyo.
“There is a light at the end of the tunnel — but we are still in the tunnel,” Newsom highlighted during his COVID-19 response briefing. “We’re going through perhaps the most intense and urgent moment since the beginning of this pandemic.”
The governor detailed that 60 53-foot refrigerated storage units have been reserved by the state. The mobile morgues are on standby in various counties and hospitals across California.
The state has averaged 32,352 new COVID-19 cases and 174.6 deaths per day over the last week, according to estimates provided by the LA Times. Comparatively, California's seven-day average for November 14 was 41 deaths.
“This is a deadly disease, and we need to be mindful of where we are,” the governor stated.
Newsom's grim warnings were issued alongside the rollout of his "Vaccinate All 58" campaign, which seeks "collective, inclusive action across all 58 counties to get people vaccinated" for the novel coronavirus.
Essential health care workers and "those among our most vulnerable in long-term care settings" will be given priority for the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The second dose will be administered some three weeks after the first.
The first box of vaccines were just taken out of the freezer to start the thawing process. It should take 30 minutes. pic.twitter.com/4jVbICUAGp— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) December 15, 2020
"While we have prepared for this surge with beds and equipment, staffing shortages are real and impact our medical system," Newsom emphasized in the announcement, urging Californians to "wear a mask, reduce mixing, stay home, stop the spread and save lives."