Covid death toll: California becomes first state to top 50,000

Officials in Los Angeles County say uncounted deaths from winter surge are ‘devastating’

Gino Spocchia
Thursday 25 February 2021 12:05

Joe Biden marks over 500,000 Covid deaths in the US: 'We have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow'

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California has become the first US state to record a Covid-19 death toll of more than 50,000.

Officials in Los Angeles County said on Wednesday that 806 previously unreported winter deaths were found in a recount of backlogged records.

It comes several weeks after a surge in coronavirus related deaths rocked the country’s most populous state, and days after the United States reported more than half a million deaths as a whole.

California’s death toll now stands at about a tenth of the overall US number, and ranks 25th for the number of deaths recorded from Covid-19 in terms of population.

Although deaths have started to taper off, Los Angeles County recorded another 136 deaths on Wednesday — almost half of the 314 deaths recorded across California that day.

Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County’s health director, expressed remorse for the 50,000 death toll, and the additional winter deaths.

She said on Wednesday: “It is heartbreaking to report on this large number of additional deaths associated with Covid-19”.

The fatalities, which were found as part of a routine check of records, were described by Ms Ferrer as “a devastating reminder of the terrible toll the winter surge has taken on so many families across the county.”

She added that many of the state's Covid-19 restrictions would continue to apply to residents, as concerns are raised about the spread of new variants of coronavirus.

They include those first recorded in the UK and South Africa, which have both been reported in California, and other US states, including Florida.

“The local transmission of the potentially more infectious UK variant underscores the need for every one of our residents to continue to use every tool we have to prevent transmission,” Ms Ferrer said.

There are now 18 confirmed cases of the UK variant in Los Angeles County alone, according to the Los Angeles Times, while California as a whole has more than 200 confirmed cases.

Another variant of concern, from South Africa, has not been identified in Los Angeles County, but has been identified in the Bay Area, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Since the pandemic started, California has reported over 3,450,058 cases, alongside the 50,890 deaths, and has vaccinated 7,876,011, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Across the US, some 28,065,327 cases have been recorded, and 66,464,947 people have been vaccinated. While the death toll on Thursday stood at 501,181, according to the CDC.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

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