California Reports 'Heartbreaking' COVID Death Toll

Backlogged cases bring total above 50K
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 25, 2021 4:24 AM CST
California Is First State to Top 50K COVID Deaths
In this Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021 photo, a health care worker tends to a COVID-19 patient in the intensive care unit at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Los Angeles County on Wednesday reported an additional 806 deaths from coronavirus during the winter surge, pushing California’s toll above 50,000, or about one-tenth of the US total from the pandemic. The county, which has a quarter of the state’s 40 million residents, said the deaths mainly occurred between Dec. 3 and Feb. 3. The Department of Public Health identified them after going through death records that were backlogged by the sheer volume of the surge’s toll, the AP reports. "It is heartbreaking to report on this large number of additional deaths associated with COVID-19 and a devastating reminder of the terrible toll the winter surge has taken on so many families across the county," Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County’s health director, said in a statement.

The grim figure comes days after the US recorded a half-million deaths. While the nation’s most populous state has the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the US, it is ranked 25th in the number of cases per capita because of its large population. The death toll climbed precipitously amid a fall and winter surge that has begun to taper off as cases and hospitalizations drop. It took 10 months for the state to hit 25,000 deaths on New Year’s Eve and less than two months for that number to double. Los Angeles County on Wednesday reported an additional 136 deaths, accounting for nearly half of the state’s 314 additional deaths. Johns Hopkins University put California’s overall COVID-19 death toll at 50,972.

(More coronavirus stories.)

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