California ups order of body bags, reminding that COVID-19 remains deadly

Tempering the excitement generated by COVID-19 vaccines, Gov. Gavin Newsom Tuesday offered a grim reminder that the disease remains deadly, saying the state has ordered 5,000 more body bags for distribution to morgues in three counties, including Los Angeles.

"This is a deadly disease, a deadly pandemic, and we're in the middle of it right now," Newsom said. "We're near the end, but we're in the middle of the most acute peak as it relates to what we refer to as the third wave -- the third and what we hope is the final wave of this disease."

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Newsom said 142 coronavirus-related deaths were reported statewide in the past 24 hours. Over the past week, the state averaged 163 deaths per day -- up from 41 per day one month ago.

"Think about if we continue down the path we're on, what that Jan. 14th number might look like if we do not do what we need to do, which is not just to avail ourselves when we can to the vaccine, but to continue to wear these face coverings and minimize mixing to the extent possible because of what's occurred in the last 30 days," Newsom said.

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According to the governor, the state has 60 53-foot refrigerated storage units on standby at counties and hospitals across California for use is local facilities become overwhelmed by virus fatalities.

"We just had to order 5,000 additional body bags ... and we just distributed them down to San Diego, Los Angeles, Inyo counties," he said. "That should be sobering. I don't want ... to scare folks, but this is a deadly disease. And we need to be mindful of where we are in this current journey together to the vaccine. We are not at the finish line yet."

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