Gov. Gavin Newsom explains why COVID-19 vaccine rollout is slow going

ByAlix Martichoux, David Louie KABC logo
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Newsom explains why vaccine rollout is slow going
Governor Gavin Newsom expects an even bigger post-holiday COVID-19 surge in California, he said in a noon press conference update today. He also gave an update on the regional stay-at-home order and the slow vaccine rollout.

Gov. Gavin Newsom warned California may soon see an even worse post-holiday COVID-19 surge in the coming days and weeks.

The state reported 29,633 new coronavirus cases Sunday -- a number the governor warned was misleadingly low due to reduced testing over the holiday weekend.

He called the weekend's numbers a "lull" before we see a "surge on top of a surge" in the next week or so. The latest COVID-19 case rates and hospitalization numbers don't fully reflect the potential impact of gatherings over Christmas and New Year's Eve.

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Even so, COVID-related hospitalizations are still rising, up 18% over the past two weeks. Over the past two months, hospitalizations have increased seven-fold, Newsom said.

"This is a deadly disease. This is a deadly pandemic," Newsom said. "It remains as deadly today as any point in the history of this pandemic."

Newsom also gave an update on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in California. He said the state has received 1.29 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. More than 450,000 doses have already been administered, though Newsom acknowledged that's not nearly enough.

"We are working aggressively to accelerate our pace," he said. "You're going to start seeing more rapid distribution of this vaccine, I can assure you that now.

"That said, it's gone too slowly. I know for many of us, all of us, I think we want to see 100% of what's received immediately administered in people's arms, and so that's a challenge."

Gov. Gavin Newsom warned California may soon see an even worse post-holiday COVID-19 surge in the coming days and weeks.

The governor tried to make it clear that distributing the vaccine is anything but easy, saying there's some "mythology" about how the rollout is supposed to work.

"The vaccines don't arrive magically in some state facility," Newsom said. "We don't receive large crates of vaccines."

Newsom said the state has been having more issues distributing the Moderna vaccine due to complications with an intermediary. The Pfizer vaccine has been easier to distribute, in some regards, because the state deals with the company directly.

Last week, the state extended the regional stay-at-home order for two regions, Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley. Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said four-week projections for both regions show demand exceeding ICU capacity, which means the stay-at-home order will remain in effect. The order will be lifted when "ICU projections are above or equal to 15%."

Latest numbers show ICU capacity at 0% in both regions.

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The Bay Area is at 7.9% remaining ICU capacity and the Greater Sacramento region is at 12.1% as of Monday.

A few days later, San Francisco County decided to follow their lead and extended its stay-at-home order indefinitely.

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