Covid-19 Death Toll In California Tops 50,000; Highest In The US

California’s Covid-19 death toll officially surpassed 50,000 on Thursday, according to the state’s virus tracking board. Thursday’s total of 50,991 was a big jump up from Wednesday’s due to a massive backlog deaths in Los Angeles County were tallied. Thursday’s tally becomes the state’s highest daily death toll of the pandemic.

The grim news out of California follows two days after the state’s largest county — Los Angeles — reported 20,000 deaths due to the virus. LA county marked that dark milestone just one day after the country-at-large recorded 500,000 deaths related to the virus.

Los Angeles County Public Health officials revealed Wednesday that 806 deaths related to Covid-19 went unrecorded due to an overwhelming volume of the public death report forms used to track causes of death.

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“There were a number of deaths not reported through the standard public death report forms, but later identified,” said county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

That backlog, in addition to 136 new virus-related deaths, pushed California’s total reported on Thursday to 1,114. That’s about 350 deaths higher than the previous record. It also skewed the state’s 14-day rolling average — which was 349 deaths a day — back up to 395.

“The majority of these deaths occurred during the surge between Dec. 3, 2020, and Feb. 3, 2021,” Ferrer said. “This was a period as you all know when very many deaths occurred across the county and not all of them were reported to Public Health because of the volume of records.

“Public Health identifies Covid-associated deaths primarily by submission of what’s called a daily report form that we get from health care providers,” she said. “Additionally, we do use vital records to identify deaths that are related to Covid-19 by reviewing the cause of death listed on the death certificates, and then we link deaths on the death certificates to those that are listed on the report forms. During the surge, death certificate linkage and reviews were often delayed due to the high volume of death report forms.”

For a long time, New York was the region that had seen the most deaths due to the pandemic. But the horrific winter surge in California took the state past NY.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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