VIRUS TODAY: California in dire need of more medical workers

Coronavirus

Dr. Charles Moore poses for a photo at his home in El Dorado Hills, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. Moore, who is retired, volunteered for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s California’s Health Corp and worked last spring at Sacramento’s Sleep Train Arena that was outfitted to handle as nearly 400 COVID-19 patients spilling over from area hospitals. But after the facility handled only nine patients over 10 weeks, Moore and others were no longer needed. Now the state has reopened the arena and other facilities but is using little more than a handful of Corps volunteers. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Here’s what’s happening Saturday with the pandemic in the U.S.:

— California desperately needs more medical workers at facilities swamped by coronavirus patients, and almost no help is coming from a volunteer program that Gov. Gavin Newsom created at the start of the pandemic. An army of 95,000 initially raised their hands, but just 14 are now working in the field. Newsom said very few volunteers met qualifications for the California Health Corps, and only a tiny sliver have the high-level experience needed to help with the most serious virus cases. Other states have faced similar difficulties making volunteer programs work. California health authorities reported a record high of 695 coronavirus deaths Saturday, raising the state’s death toll since the start of the pandemic to 29,233.

— Health officials in Anchorage, Alaska, say appointments for residents eager to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine filled up in a matter of hours, leading to frustration for people still trying to sign up. Anchorage Health Department Director Heather Harris told KTUU-TV that all 1,800 available time slots were reserved by residents within a four-hour period Thursday. Clinics are not accepting walk-ins. Residents 65 and older are now able to receive the vaccine; about 33,000 people fall in that category. Harris said Anchorage is expecting about 14,600 doses this month and vaccination clinics were planned throughout the weekend and early next week.

— An Oklahoma judge has extended a temporary restraining order allowing bars and restaurants across Oklahoma to stay open past an 11 p.m. curfew Gov. Kevin Stitt issued in November in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. District Judge Susan Stallings heard arguments in the case Friday and extended the Dec. 29 order while she considers ruling in a lawsuit by bar owners who argue the governor doesn’t have legal authority to impose the curfew, according to court records. Attorneys for the governor say state law gives Stitt “broad and flexible authority needed” to combat the virus’ spread. On Saturday, Oklahoma had the sixth most new cases per capita in the nation with 1,218.16 per 100,000 residents, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

THE NUMBERS: According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths in the U.S. rose over the past two weeks, going from 2,368.1 on Dec. 25 to 2,982.7 on Friday.

DEATH TOLL: The number of COVID-19-related deaths in the U.S. stands at 371,260.

QUOTABLE: “When it comes to court orders, in my opinion, civil disobedience is not an option. It just absolutely is not.” — Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Wanda Stokes, who found a cafe in a small Michigan town in contempt of court for violating the state’s indoor dining ban by continuing to serve customers indoors.

ICYMI: California’s San Diego County is opening what it calls a “ vaccination super station ” that aims to inoculate up to 5,000 health care workers daily with a coronavirus vaccine. The effort starting Monday is one of the most ambitious yet in California to accelerate the pace of vaccinations. Only about 1% of California’s 40 million residents have been vaccinated against the virus. Medical crews from the University of California, San Diego will operate the station in a parking lot near the downtown baseball stadium. Health care workers will remain in their vehicles as they are given the shot and then be asked to remain on-site for 15 minutes to be monitored for any allergic reaction.

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Find AP’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Senatara COVID-19 Infographic (Dec. 2020)

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