California Orders 5,000 Body Bags and Dozens of Refrigerated Trucks on Standby as Coronavirus Cases Surge

California ordered 5,000 more body bags and has dozens of refrigerated trucks on standby as the state experiences its “most intense” COVID-19 surge to date, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.

The state reported 32,326 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, amid “historically high” case numbers, the governor said. Its 14-day average positivity rate is 10.7% — the highest it’s been since the beginning of the pandemic. Two weeks ago, that rate was 6.9%.

There were 142 new deaths reported on Tuesday, with the seven-day average at 163 per day as of Monday. That number was 41 a month ago.

Amid the surge in deaths, the state has distributed 5,000 newly purchased body bags to San Diego, Los Angeles and Inyo counties, and has 60 53-foot refrigerated storage units on standby in counties and at hospitals, he said. California is also activating its coroner mutual aid and mass fatality program, Newsom said, to coordinate the response of coroners and morgues.

“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.”

Hospitalization rates are also troubling, increasing 68% in the past two weeks, he said. Intensive care unit admissions have also increased 54% in the past two weeks.

Statewide, ICU capacity is at 5.7%. The San Joaquin Valley and Southern California regions have ICU availability under 2%. When a region hits 0% ICU capacity, surge staffing and surge management go into effect, Newsom said.

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SOURCE: ABC News, Meredith Deliso