Here is what is happening on Saturday with the pandemic in the United States:
– California is in desperate need of more medical workers at facilities flooded with coronavirus patients, and almost no help is coming from a volunteer program created by Governor Gavin Newsom at the start of the pandemic. An army of 95,000 men initially raised their hands, but only 14 are now working in the field. Newsom said very few volunteers meet California Health Corps qualifications, and only a tiny bit have the high-level experience needed to help with the most severe virus cases. Other states have encountered similar difficulties in making volunteer programs work. California health officials reported a record 695 coronavirus deaths on Saturday, bringing the state’s death toll since the start of the pandemic to 29,233.
– Health officials in Anchorage, Alaska are announcing appointments for residents keen to receive their first filled COVID-19 vaccine dose within hours, leading to frustration for people still trying to get to register. Anchorage Department of Health Director Heather Harris told KTUU-TV that the 1,800 available slots were booked by residents within four hours on Thursday. Clinics do not accept walk-in visits. Residents 65 and over can now receive the vaccine; about 33,000 people fall into this category. Harris said Anchorage expects around 14,600 doses this month and vaccination clinics are scheduled throughout the weekend and early next week.
– An Oklahoma judge extended a temporary restraining order allowing bars and restaurants in Oklahoma to remain open after the 11 p.m. curfew, Governor Kevin Stitt, issued in November, in a bid to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. District Judge Susan Stallings heard arguments in the case on Friday and extended the Dec. 29 order while considering ruling in a lawsuit brought by bar owners who claim the governor lacks legal power to impose a curfew, according to court records. Lawyers for the governor say state law gives Stitt “the broad and flexible authority necessary” to fight the spread of the virus. On Saturday, Oklahoma had the sixth highest number of new cases per capita in the country with 1,218.16 per 100,000 population, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
THE NUMBERS: According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day moving average of new daily deaths in the United States has increased over the past two weeks, from 2,368.1 on December 25 to 2,982.7 on Friday.
NUMBER OF DEATHS: The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States stands at 371,260.
QUOTE: “Regarding court orders, in my opinion civil disobedience is not an option. This is absolutely not the case. – Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Wanda Stokes, who found a cafe in a small town in Michigan in contempt of court for violating the inside-state eating ban by continuing to serve customers inside.
ICYMI: San Diego County in California is opening what it calls a “super vaccination station” that aims to inoculate up to 5,000 health workers daily with a vaccine against the coronavirus. The effort that begins Monday is one of the most ambitious yet in California to speed up the pace of vaccinations. Only about 1% of California’s 40 million people have been vaccinated against the virus. Medical teams from the University of California at San Diego will operate the station in a parking lot near the downtown baseball stadium. Healthcare workers will remain in their vehicles during the vaccine and will then be asked to stay on site for 15 minutes to be monitored for an allergic reaction.
Find AP’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.