California's woes will likely worsen as patients who contracted the disease over Thanksgiving are joined by those exposed after gathering with friends and family for Christmas and Hanukkah, Blackstone said.
Pence received his Covid-19 vaccine live on television on Friday, seeking to shore up public support for vaccinations as U.S. regulators were on the cusp of approving a second vaccine for emergency use.
After U.S. deaths from the coronavirus topped 3,000 for a third straight day, Pence called the vaccinations a sign of hope, with 20 million doses expected to be distributed nationwide before the end of December and hundreds of millions more going out in the first half of 2021.
"I also believe that history will record that this week was the beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic, but with cases rising across the country, hospitalizations rising across the country, we have a ways to go," said Pence, leader of the White House coronavirus task force.
Beyond the logistical challenge of the most ambitious vaccination campaign in decades, health officials must convince a skeptical public vaccines are safe and effective. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found only 61% of Americans were open to getting vaccinated.
Pence and other officials being vaccinated publicly "is symbolic to tell the rest of the country the time is now to step to the plate, and when your time comes, to get vaccinated," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
Frontline healthcare workers, first responders and nursing home residents have been given priority, but a parade of high-profile inoculations could soon follow. Fauci, who still sees patients, has said he might receive the vaccine within days.
Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have volunteered for public inoculations, and President-elect Joe Biden, who is due to take office on Jan. 20, will get his next week, his aides said.
While departing President Donald Trump has yet to embrace messages about social distancing and mask-wearing, he has encouraged people to get vaccinated and championed his administration's Operation Warp Speed program to promote development and distribution of vaccines.
But Trump, who survived a bout with Covid-19 a few weeks before losing the Nov. 3 election to Biden, has yet to announce his plans for getting a shot.