California to partner with other West Coast states on coronavirus vaccine planning

While we may not see a coronavirus vaccine in California in 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that the state is moving forward with planning how vaccines will be prioritized among Californians when they arrive.

California has added more experts from Washington, Oregon and Nevada to their vaccine task force to help independently review and determine guidelines for allocating vaccine supplies, the governor said.

Newsom said the first wave of vaccines would go to healthcare workers, essential employees, and vulnerable groups, such as nursing home residents. The group will then work to help the state distribute vaccines to the rest of Californians.

RELATED: California to receive 11.9 million rapid COVID-19 tests from federal government

While infections have been trending in the right direction for weeks, there are concerns that socializing will increase around the holidays and more gatherings will be moved indoors during the winter months, and both those factors could cause cases to start climbing again.

California's COVID-19 case count topped 900,000 Monday, but the rate of spread has slowed in the state.

The average positivity rate for the past two weeks of testing is 2.8%. Newsom said the state's goal is to keep the positivity rate down even as they continue to increase testing capacity.

Hospitalizations and ICU admission rates have increased slightly, which is still a concern for state health officials, Newsom said.

Seven California counties were moved to a different reopening tier on Tuesday. Many of the changes were in the Bay Area and Northern California.

RELATED: 7 counties change tiers on California reopening map

But perhaps the more pressing concern for many Californians is the threat of wildfires. Newsom said CAL FIRE responded to 42 new brush fires sparked by strong wind gusts in the 24 hours.

Two of those blazes, the Silverado Fire and the Blue Ridge Fire in Southern California, exploded in size, forcing thousands to evacuate from their homes and leaving two firefighters in critical condition.

Red Flag Warnings are expected to expire Tuesday night. Newsom said California is continuing to face a historic wildfire season, and 4.2 million acres have burned across the state.
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