LOS ANGELES (AP) – The first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Los Angeles County. It broke a record for coronavirus hospitalizations this weekend, as San Francisco County’s highest number of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.
More than 30,000 confirmed coronavirus cases were reported nationwide on Sunday, bringing the total to 1,551,766 in California. Millions of Californians in the majority of the state call home.
In Los Angeles County, the most populous country in the country, more than 4,000 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19, according to data released Sunday afternoon. More than a fifth of hospital patients are in intensive care units.
With 3,850 patients in a hospital, the new numbers from the district break the previous record from the previous day and follow the trend that hospital admissions have increased almost daily since November 1st.
LA County Health Director Barbara Ferrer warned on Monday – when 2,988 hospitalizations took place – that the county could increase the statistic to 4,000 within two weeks. It happened in six days.
San Francisco County health officials reported 323 new cases on Saturday, the highest number of new coronavirus infections. San Francisco early emerged as a leader in the state’s response to the pandemic, but has since moved on to tackling its own cases.
Record numbers in Los Angeles and San Francisco counties assume more than 325,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are on their way to California.
The first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine left Michigan early Sunday for 145 distribution centers across the country. States will receive vaccines based on their adult populations, with more supplies coming this week.
The vaccine is used in hospitals and other locations across the country where it can be stored at extremely low temperatures – around 94 degrees below zero. Pfizer uses containers with dry ice and GPS-enabled sensors to ensure that each shipment stays colder than the Antarctic weather.
In California, counties will have specific grants that will be distributed to hospitals set by state health authorities to have adequate storage capacity, care for a high-risk healthcare population, and vaccinate people quickly. The priority will be to vaccinate health care workers on the front lines of a pandemic that has infected more than 16 million people and claimed nearly 298,000 lives in the US alone.
Deaths in the United States include a disproportionate number of people of color.
In Santa Clara County, Northern California, volunteers have launched a pilot program of door-to-door coronavirus testing in a Latin-American majority community that has become a virus hotspot. Officials last week distributed self-test kits in the East San Jose neighborhood of San Jose, Silicon Valley, where 55% of the population are Latinos, and officials say many residents do not have easy access to test sites.
But for many, the vaccines are still out of reach. The priority will be that health workers are vaccinated first.
Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted that a group of medical experts convened by Western states met on Saturday to discuss the vaccine and confirm that it is safe for public use. Newsom said distribution could begin as early as Sunday.
Medical facilities at military bases in Alameda and San Diego will be among the first to receive vaccines, the US Department of Defense said earlier this month.
The vaccines are coming as the situation across the country and California gets worse day by day and the holiday season is in full swing. Public health officials fear that the already soaring infection rates and hospital stays will continue to rise as people ignore the holiday precautions.
On Saturday, the number of ICU beds available in the San Joaquin Valley dropped to zero for the first time.