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Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that Californians over the age of 65 will now be prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as the state looks to “increase the pace” of vaccine distribution.

The current phase of previous guidance gave priority to healthcare workers and it was projected that adults over 65 would not begin to receive vaccinations until February.

“One of the most significant things we can do is increase the number of people eligible… to receive the vaccine,” Newsom said in a Twitter post, Wednesday. “Today, we’re announcing that Californians 65 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine.”

The announcement comes a day after the CDC adjusted its priority recommendations to allow adults over 65 eligibility to receive the currently limited vaccine.

“With our hospitals crowded and ICUs full, we need to focus on vaccinating Californians who are at highest risk of becoming hospitalized to alleviate stress on our health care facilities,” Dr. Tomás Aragón, Director of the California Department of Public Health said in a statement. “Prioritizing individuals age 65 and older will reduce hospitalizations and save lives.”

On January 7, the state set a goal to vaccinate 1 million Californians by January 17, while Los Angeles County set its own goal to vaccinate 500,000 people by the end of January.

On Tuesday, L.A. County reported 11,994 single day positive cases of COVID-19, with 288 new deaths. The current positive case count for L.A. County has reached 944,319 with a total of 12,674 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

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