Coronavirus latest: California’s death toll tops 50,000 after Los Angeles undercount

California has become the first US state to confirm 50,000 coronavirus deaths since the start of the pandemic after reporting a record one-day increase of more than 1,000 fatalities.

A further 1,114 deaths were attributed to coronavirus, the state’s health department revealed on Thursday.

The record one-day increase was due to an undercounting of fatalities in hard-hit Los Angeles, where officials said extensive checks of death records had identified 806 coronavirus-related deaths that were not initially recorded as such. “The majority of these deaths occurred during the surge between December 3rd, 2020 and February 3rd, 2021,” LA Public Health said.

All up, this took California’s death toll to 50,991. Almost 21,000 of these were in Los Angeles county, where hospital resources and emergency services were stretched thin during the winter surge

That is about 10 per cent of all Covid-19 deaths in the US in the year since the first confirmed fatality in the country. The US death toll crossed 500,000 on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University, and is now at 506,500.

Adjusted for population, California’s death toll equates to about 129 deaths per 100,000 people. That is the 28th highest in the US, according to a Financial Times analysis of Covid Tracking Project data.

California passed a more encouraging milestone on Thursday, with the health department revealing it had administered more than 8m vaccine doses, which is more than any other state in absolute terms.

California, the most populous US state, has administered 19,933 shots per 100,000 people, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of February 24. That is the 28th-highest rate among US states.

California’s health department on Thursday reported an additional 4,965 coronavirus cases, taking the total number of confirmed infections since the start of the pandemic to 3.46m.

The number of people with coronavirus currently in hospitals across the state eased to 6,520. That is the fewest number of patients since November 24, just before Thanksgiving.

California is one of several states in recent weeks to revise coronavirus deaths or case numbers. Processing of death certificates in Virginia have seen the state, in the past five days, revise its death toll higher by about 10 per cent to more than 7,800. Ohio earlier revealed “about 4,000” fatalities that initially went unrecorded, boosting its death toll at the time to about 16,300.

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