Although Southern California has driven much of state’s improvement over the past month in its battle with COVID-19, it is also where the vast majority of Californians have died from the virus. And, as Wednesday reminded, where most of the deaths in the state are still occurring.
Counties around the state reported another 143 fatalities from COVID-19 on Wednesday, according to data compiled by this news organization, and nearly 80% were in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego, Riverside or Orange counties.
In the Bay Area, there were four total fatalities reported Wednesday, fewer than all five Southern California counties individually, plus three other less populated jurisdictions: San Joaquin, Sacramento and Imperial counties, which reported five fatalities apiece.
The new victims Wednesday brought California’s cumulative death toll within 10 of 14,000. According to The New York Times, Texas had practically pulled even in overall deaths and was on pace to overtake California, which has a population of about 39.5 million vs. 29 million in Texas.
The five aforementioned counties make up about 70% of all the coronavirus fatalities in the California, despite accounting for about half the state’s population. At the end of June, it was near 80% of the statewide deaths; by the end of July, it was about 75% of the total. By comparison, the Bay Area’s share of the statewide total has remained below 10% for the entirety of the pandemic, despite being home to about 20% of California’s population.
The 6,090 deaths in Los Angeles County, the most populous in the country and home to some 10 million people, are the most of any county in the nation.
In the past week, LA overtook Kings and Queens counties in New York City, according to Johns Hopkins University. Those two counties, home to the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, were part of the country’s original epicenter in March and April. Across all of New York City, which also includes Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, there were fewer deaths in the past week than on Wednesday alone in Los Angeles County. (While LA County and New York City have similar populations, New York City’s is split between five separate counties.)
While the number of deaths statewide has fallen about 35% from its peak, its drop off has been slower and less precipitous than those seen in cases and hospitalizations. On Wednesday, the seven-day average hit 95 deaths per day, the lowest it has been since July 21.
You have to go back another month — June 21 — to find the last time there were fewer cases reported in California, while hospitalizations hit their lowest point since June 15 on Sunday before rising slightly this week.
The number of new cases in California has fallen 62% from its peak in mid-July to an average of about 3,727 per day over the past week, after counties combined to report another 3,291 cases on Wednesday, according to data compiled by this news organization.
The state has added a net of 46 hospital patients since Sunday, when hospitalizations hit their lowest level in months, but the 3,354 hospitalized as of Tuesday was still less than half of the peak, which came July 21, when there were 7,170 patients hospitalized across California.
Whether those trends continue may have already been determined. Gov. Gavin Newsom has pointed to previous holiday weekends as conduits for large gatherings and subsequent spikes. Because of the lag between contracting the virus, when symptoms set in, receiving a test and reporting the result, it could be two weeks before the full effects of Labor Day Weekend become clear.
“Three-day holiday weekends have not been advantageous in terms of the mitigation of the spread of this virus,” Newsom said Wednesday. “As a consequence, we’re very cautious in terms of our approach as we move forward.”