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Covered California nears 1.6 million enrollment | COVID-19 updates for Northern California

While hospitalizations have leveled off in the last week, officials are asking Californians not to get complacent.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Nearly 1.6 million people have purchased health insurance through Covered California so far this year. State officials said Tuesday that nearly 200,000 more people have signed up for insurance this year compared with the same time period last year. 

The deadline to purchase coverage is Jan. 31. Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee estimates about 2.7 million Californians don't have health insurance. Of those, he said about 1.2 million are eligible for financial assistance or Medicaid. Of those, about 718,000 live in Southern California, where the coronavirus outbreak is at its worst.

Dr. Mark Ghaly provides an update on the state's fight against COVID-19 

RELATED: Cal Expo, Disneyland and baseball stadiums designated as mass vaccination sites in California

Bay Area hospitals fined for hiding workers' virus infections

Officials have fined two Kaiser Permanente Bay Area hospitals more than $184,000 in recent months for failing to report when employees were infected with COVID-19. 

The Mercury News reports Cal/OSHA fined the health care giant’s San Jose facility more than $85,000 after it kept quiet when one of its employees was hospitalized with COVID-19 early in the pandemic. Cal/OSHA also fined Kaiser’s hospital in Antioch $56,000 after the hospital failed to immediately report that two employees were hospitalized with coronavirus. Santa Clara County officials fined the San Jose hospital $43,000 after it kept quiet about a coronavirus outbreak that has infected 60 employees, including one who died.

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccine frequently asked questions answered

State releases latest COVID-19 statistics 

On Tuesday, the state of California announced the state total of COVID-19 cases is now at 2,747,288. There were also 548 deaths reported Monday to Tuesday, bringing the state's death total to 30,513.

ICU capacity by region:

  • Greater Sacramento Region: 9.4% (down from 9.7%)
  • Bay Area: 4.7% (up from 0.7%)
  • Northern California: 17.6% (down from 35%)
  • San Joaquin Valley: 0% (static)
  • Southern California: 0% (static)

Elk Grove college designated as public vaccination site

California Northstate University [CNU] announced its Elk Grove campus has been designated as one of the primary sites for COVID-19 vaccination for the public in the Sacramento region. The clinic will open to the public through appointment if you fall into Phase 1A on Jan. 15.

In a press release, CNU says it was selected because "its pharmacy students and interns are trained and certified to administer vaccines. It also has ultra-low temperature storage freezers required to preserve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine safely before use."

University officials said that a lot of university health centers are only vaccinating their own patients, doctors and staff, but CNU is the only one opening it up to the public. Pharmacy students and medical students will be helping to administer the vaccines, volunteering their time.

"It is a historical moment of the pharmacy school stepping up to help, working with public health," Dean Xiaodong Feng, PhD, PharmD said. "Faculty members are teaching students how to vaccinate and are taking time to give students a chance to serve the community."

Vaccinations will be given out according to state guidelines and tier eligibility.

Deaths top 30,000 in California

The state reached a grim milestone Monday, but Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s top health officer offered some hope, noting hospitalizations finally have leveled off in the last week. But they warn not to get complacent. They say the peak of the holiday-driven surge is expected near the end of January.

Johns Hopkins University reports that California’s COVID-19 death toll reached 30,000 on Monday. The state ranks third nationally for COVID-19-related deaths.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's Health and Human Services Secretary, is scheduled to participate in a video conference at noon today to provide an update on the state's fight against COVID-19. The event will be streamed live on the California Department of Public Health YouTube account.

Meanwhile, the pace of vaccinations in California will accelerate. A center capable of providing vaccinations to 5,000 people per day opened Monday in San Diego. In Los Angeles, Dodger Stadium's parking lots will be converted into a massive vaccination center, as will state fairgrounds Cal Expo in Sacramento and a Disneyland Resort parking lot in Anaheim.

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