Los Angeles County, California: California has registered more than 50,000 deaths and has become the first American state to do so. Figures from Los Angeles County, released on Wednesday afternoon, including 806 coronavirus deaths, pushed the Golden State covid19 death total past the grim 50,000 milestone to a total of 50,972 deaths. The state has now accounted for 10% of all covid19 deaths in the USA. California the most populous state in the USA, with 40 million residents, was hit with a Winter surge between December 1 and February 1. At its peak, in January, the state averaged over 560 deaths per day.
Most deaths were registered recently, during a worrying Winter upsurge that followed a period, in November, prior to Thanksgiving, of low case counts. Then, case counts were less than 50 deaths per day and hopes were high that vaccine approval could offer a quick way out of the pandemic.
This news reminds us that despite recent progress made in California against the covid19 pandemic, such progress might not be as robust as we would like, and can be threatened by social distancing weariness and new variants like the UK and South African mutations.
Putting the figures in context, despite the state reporting more covid19 deaths than any other state, other U.S. states have been hit harder, in terms of per capita deaths. As many as 30 states have registered more deaths per capita, and New Jersey has reported a covid19 death rate twice that of California.
These recent figures also hide the uneven impact of the virus across California. Covid19 has hit poorer communities more severely. Latinos are more likely to be essential workers that are more often exposed to the virus. They are also less likely to have the finances to take time off when sick, and they have less space. Living and working in crowded conditions that increase the transmission of the virus, it’s more probable that they’ll take the virus back home and pass it on.
If infected, their symptoms are more severe and their death rates are disproportionately higher. California Public Health figures show that Latinos, 39 percent of the state population, make up 55% of cases and 46% percent of Californian covid19 deaths.