Amid coronavirus surge, California calls for 5,000 body bags, dozens of refrigerated storage units

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California has sent orders for 5,000 additional body bags, with 60 refrigerated storage units on standby as the state battles historic highs in daily virus cases and positivity rates.

“We’re going through the most intense and urgent moment since the beginning of this pandemic,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a briefing Tuesday. “I want to focus on the issue of how deadly this disease is.”

Newsom said California is in the midst of its “most acute peak” at the moment, and 60 53-foot refrigerated storage units are on standby, while thousands of body bags were distributed to San Diego, Los Angeles and Inyo counties.

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“That should be sobering,” Newsom said.

California is losing 163 people every day to COVID-19, per a seven-day average as of Dec. 14, up from 41 last month.


State health officials reported a “historically high” 32,326 new daily cases Tuesday, with 142 new reported deaths. The 14-day positivity rate is also surging at 10.7%. There are over 14,000 hospitalized people with confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 3,000 in intensive care.

Newsom spoke at length about efforts to increase hospital staffing, while some hospitals are also strapped at capacity amid a so-called “third wave.”