1st Moderna vaccines distributed in SoCal as California nears 2M COVID-19 cases

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Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Many SoCal hospitals hit capacity amid COVID-19 surge
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California is quickly nearing a disturbing milestone, likely just days away from reporting 2 million coronavirus cases as many hospitals hit their maximum capacity.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- California is quickly nearing a disturbing milestone, likely just days away from reporting 2 million coronavirus cases.

With the rise in cases comes a surge in hospitalizations, and many medical facilities in Southern California report they are at full capacity. Los Angeles County for the first time is reporting more than 6,000 people hospitalized for COVID-19.

Still, hope is appearing on the horizon, as the region has now started receiving the Moderna vaccine, in addition to the Pfizer vaccine that began distribution earlier this month.

Hospitalizations have been increasing so sharply that healthcare providers are again issuing a plea to Californians to take precautions against the virus, particularly with the upcoming holidays.

"Today we're over 100% of our usual patient volume," said Greg Adams, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. "And of that volume 52% of our inpatients are patients diagnosed with COVID."

Adams added that 16 of Kaiser's 36 hospitals are above 100% occupancy in their intensive care units.

Other health-care workers are speaking out about how thinly stretched their facilities are, mostly because of Thanksgiving gatherings that helped spread the virus. They are begging with the public to "do not share the air."

"Absolutely nothing could have prepared us for what we've experienced over the past several months," said Cecilia Fleming, a nurse manager with Kaiser. "COVID positive patients are showing up to our emergency departments very acutely ill and needing to be admitted to our ICU in record numbers."

They urged people to be creative with the upcoming holidays, finding ways to celebrate that don't violate COVID-19 protocols.

"If we do our part now, there will be more of us available and alive to share the holidays with next year," said Vanessa Walker, an official with Sutter Health. "So we are asking you please help us so we can continue to deliver care to everybody who walks through our doors."

While officials are asking the public to not gather with others outside their households during the holidays, they acknowledge that many people are likely to get together nonetheless. Those who do are urged to follow a few guidelines:

  • Wear a mask
  • Keep your distance from others, while keeping doors and windows open for proper air flow
  • Keep it short to minimize the risk of transmission
  • The Veterans Administration facility in Long Beach began distribution of the Moderna vaccine on Monday, giving the first shot to a health-care worker and veteran.

    The facility is one 113 VA centers around the country receiving a limited supply of Moderna shots. That was happening as the city of Long Beach reported 14 additional deaths from the virus, the city's highest daily number since the start of the pandemic.