California activates ‘mass fatality’ program to coordinate aid across multiple agencies as COVID-19 cases and deaths soar


Gavin Newsom
In this Sept. 23, 2020, file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference at Cal Expo in Sacramento, Calif. Several California politicians have been called out in the last month for their dining choices that violate the state’s rules aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus Daniel Kim/The Sacramento Bee via AP, Pool, File
  • California activated its “mass fatality” program as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to soar, NPR reported. 

  • The program is meant to help ease the burden on local agencies as deaths rise. 

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an average of more than 160 deaths per day over the last week. 

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

California has activated its “mass fatality” program as novel coronavirus cases and deaths continue to soar, NPR reported. 

 It comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom announced an average of more than 160 deaths per day over the last week, and ordered 5,000 additional body bags to distribute to counties experiencing record deaths, KRON-TV reported. 

The California Office of Emergency Services said the mass fatality program is implemented when there are more deaths during a period of time than the local coroner or medical emergency personnel can handle. The program coordinates aid between several governmental agencies.

Mark Pazin, the state’s OES chief, told KCRA the mass facility program is meant to ensure that local agencies aren’t overwhelmed with the death toll. 

“I know it sounds morbid, but it’s got to be said, that we have the body bags, that we have the proper refrigeration units, that the capacity has not outstripped the local morgue or funeral home,” Pazin said.

California, on Thursday, reported  52,281 new daily confirmed COVID-19 cases and 379 new deaths. 

The Los Angeles Times reported that in Southern California, which spans more than 56,000 square miles and has a population of nearly 24 million people, there is no ICU bed capacity left, meaning patients would likely be placed in other locations within hospitals. 

As of Wednesday, the Times also reported the hospitalizations have broken records for 18 days in a row. On Tuesday, 14,939 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state. 

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