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California Gov. Gavin Newsom watches as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center on Dec. 14. Photo: Jae C. Hong-Pool via Getty

California has ordered 5,000 body bags as the state undergoes its "most intense" COVID-19 surge to date, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.

Why it matters: California saw 32,326 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and has reached a 14-day average positivity rate of 10.7%, its highest since the pandemic began.

  • With daily COVID deaths four times higher than they were just a month ago, the state has placed 60 53-foot refrigerated storage units on standby and activated its coroner mutual aid and mass fatality program.

The big picture: The first 33,150 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in California this week, but intensive care units are increasingly overloaded. The state has had to establish medical overflow facilities in anticipation of increased case counts.

  • The vaccine is good news, Newsom said. But it won't resolve the surge of cases and hospitalizations this holiday season.
  • In late November, California instituted a strict stay-at-home order for regions with less than 15% ICU capacity.
  • Health care workers and residents in long-term care facilities will receive vaccines first.

The bottom line: "This is a deadly disease, and we need to be mindful of where we are," Newsom said. "We are not at the finish line yet."

Go deeper

24 hours ago - Health

Biden admin to boost COVID vaccine delivery to states for at least 3 weeks

Vice President Harris receives her second COVID-19 vaccine dose in Bethesda, Maryland, on Jan. 26. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration plans to increase its COVID-19 vaccine shipments to states and tribes from 8.6 million doses per week to 10 million for at least the next three weeks, as part of an effort to vaccinate the majority of the U.S. population by the end of this summer.

Why it matters: Hospitals in states across the U.S. say they are running out of vaccines and the country's death toll is sharply rising.

Scammers have stolen over $130 million in coronavirus-related schemes

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Over 100,000 Americans have collectively reported roughly $132 million in fraud losses from scams related to the coronavirus and government stimulus checks since the March start of the pandemic, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Why it matters: Coronavirus-related fraud complaints peaked in May when the IRS began sending its first round of stimulus checks. Congress recently proposed a second round of stimulus.