The state’s grim new milestone — 2,002,494 cases as of late Wednesday — comes as ICUs are near or at full capacity across the state.
California hit 1 million cases on November 12, and it has taken less than six weeks for the state to add another million cases. Given the state’s population of 39.5 million, about one out of every 20 people in California has tested positive for the virus.
In all, the US reported 228,131 new cases of the coronavirus and 3,359 new deaths on Wednesday, the third-most deaths in a single day. That is a devastating “normal” for the US, which has averaged about 215,000 new cases and over 2,700 new deaths every day over the past week.
At the same time, the US has put its hopes in the rollout of its recently authorized Covid-19 vaccines. Operation Warp Speed has distributed about 9.5 million doses and administered at least one million doses as of early Thursday, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“With cases of Covid-19 continuing to surge nationwide, this achievement comes at a critical time and will help to protect those on the front lines — our health care providers treating COVID-19 patients — as well as our most vulnerable: elder individuals living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said.
The vaccinations can’t come too soon for California. The state’s 7-day positivity rate now stands at 12.6%, a slight decrease from previous weeks. However, 55 of California’s 58 counties remain in the most restrictive purple tier of the state’s Covid-19 reopening system, which have resulted in the closure of many nonessential indoor business operations.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has attributed the recent surge in cases to people relaxing their physical distancing efforts and gathering with people outside of their households, especially during the holidays.
A total of 23,558 Californians have died of complications from the disease since the start of the pandemic.
More than 1 million vaccines administered
Just over a week since the first Covid-19 vaccine was authorized, more than 1 million people have received their first shot.
That reported number is lower than the true number because many doses administrated in recent days have yet to be tabulated in the figures from the CDC, the agency said.
The government has said it intends to distribute 20 million first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines in the coming weeks, slightly later than it had originally planned.
“It’s been a big week of delivery of vaccines,” Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, told reporters Wednesday. “Over 7,800 deliveries by the end of tomorrow, as we are delivering the 7.9 million doses of vaccine that were allocated for this week around the country — really a tremendous feat.”
Perna said about 15.5 million doses of vaccine have been allocated and another 4.5-5 million will be allotted next week.
“We’ll finish those deliveries in the first week of January,” he said.
In addition, health care workers have found that the Pfizer vaccine, a frozen solution that is diluted with saline before it is given to people, can yield more than the initially thought five doses.
As such, Perna said that the ancillary kits shipped along with the vaccine are being adjusted with extra supplies to accommodate a possible sixth dose.
“We have adjusted our contract and our construction of the kits to … provide even more capability as we go forward,” Perna said Wednesday.
He noted that the kits already had a bit of “extra capability” built in, and that right now, most of the administration of the vaccine is occurring in hospitals “where they have access to syringes and needles accordingly.”
“So, feel very comfortable with the availability of syringes and needles and our ability to put these kits together and continue the simultaneous distribution of the kits with the vaccine,” he said.
CNN’s Alexandra Meeks, Andrea Kane, Holly Yan and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.