This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Friday, December 4th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.

New York City is in Phase 4 of reopening now, which includes zoos, botanical gardens, museums, and gyms, as well as 25% indoor dining. Schools are shut down. Certain parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island under a zoned shutdown. Get answers to questions you may have with our "Ask An Epidemiologist" series, or learn more aboutNYC COVID-19 testing options with our explainer. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.

Here's the latest:

2 p.m. The city's health commissioner, Dr. Dave Chokshi, said Friday that widespread vaccination against COVID-19 would likely not occur in New York City until the middle of 2021, depending on supply and availability.

At that point, assuming the vaccines are widely available, New Yorkers may even be able to choose which specific vaccine they want, such as Pfizer or Moderna.

Under the plan, which is subject to federal and state guidance,vaccine doses will be rolled out in phases and priority will initially go to "high risk" healthcare workers and those who work and live in nursing homes, Chokshi said during a virtual City Council hearing.

The commissioner said the first doses are expected to arrive "sometime during the week of December 14th."

Mayor de Blasio has said that more than 250,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be delivered following by roughly 211,000 doses of Moderna's vaccine.

Each immunization requires two doses administered three to four weeks apart depending on the manufacturer. The mayor's office said all of the initial shipments would be used to deliver first doses to New Yorkers.

Chokshi faced a battery of questions about the city's vaccination plan, which is expected to be one of the biggest challenges facing government officials as they seek to bring an end to the pandemic. The COVID-19 vaccination is expected to be the largest in New York City's history.

In New York as well as other places, the virus has disproportionately infected and killed Black and Hispanic residents. Looking forward, many elected officials have urged the administration to ensure that the vaccine is distributed equitably.

Chokshi assured Councilmembers that city health officials were considering those at greatest risk through their occupation but were also "taking into account an equity lens."

The current plan divides priority immunizations into three groups. After healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff, the city will look to vaccinate essential workers followed by those at greatest risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19, including seniors.

The immunization of the first group is expected to start in December and take a few weeks, while shots for the other two groups could begin in January or February, Chokshi said. In the summer, assuming the vaccines are widely available, New Yorkers may even be able to choose which specific vaccine they want, such as Pfizer or Moderna.

California Will Issue Stay-At-Home Orders Should Hospitals Become Strained

Customer walks past a sign indicating that a COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available at Walgreens, in Long Beach, California.

Customer walks past a sign indicating that a COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available at Walgreens, in Long Beach, California.

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Customer walks past a sign indicating that a COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available at Walgreens, in Long Beach, California.
Ashley Landis/AP/Shutterstock

California has announced new hospitalization triggers in five regions that would result in stay-at-home orders and sweeping business shutdowns, in what is the most stringent plan yet by the state to battle rising coronavirus infections.

In a press conference on Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom described the latest phase as the "most challenging moment since the beginning of this pandemic.”

Under the order, the measures would take effect once intensive care units in a region’s hospitals become more than 85 percent full. Although no region has become that strained yet, some are expected to as early as this week, according to officials.

Los Angeles County, the largest in the country, is already undergoing a stay-at-home order, which is set to last three weeks. Most gatherings by people of different households are prohibited and restaurants in most of the county can now offer only takeout service. Outdoor dining was shut down Wednesday night, except in the city of Pasadena.

The actions signify the growing concern both in California and across the country as cases surge and as the next set of holidays approach. On Thursday, states recorded more than 210,000 new cases, a new daily record, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

More than 10 states, including New Jersey, broke their individual new daily case records.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is also planning to introduce hospitalization metrics into his targeted shutdown plan, but has yet to reveal the precise criteria or thresholds, although on Thursday he performed an unboxing of (empty) Pfizer vaccine vials that are expected to arrive in New York on December 15th.

There are now more than 4,000 people statewide hospitalized for COVID-19, the highest level since late May. New case counts are also rapidly surging. On Thursday, the state reported nearly 10,000 new cases. There have not been that many new cases reported in a single day since April.

In yet another dire indicator, deaths are also climbing back up. The state reported 61 fatalities on Thursday, the most since May 27.

New York City on Thursday saw its average positivity rate soar above 5%, the highest it has been in six months.