On Wednesday, California achieved the lowest Covid-19 infection rate in the continental United States. On Friday came the grim reminder of the toll the virus has taken on the state: The official number of lives lost to the pandemic crossed 60,000 to 60,086.
To put that perspective, in 2017 — a relatively bad year for influenza — CDC stats reveal that 6,340 Californians died of influenza and pneumonia — pneumonia is a common outcome of severe influenza. So in a little more than a year, Covid-19 has killed nearly 10 X as many Californians as a relatively severe flu.
What’s more, Covid-19 had very nearly outpaced the top cause of premature death in the state in 2017, heart disease, which killed 62,797 Californians in that year. This is not taking into account the undercounting of Covid-related deaths in local hospitals which Los Angeles Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer recently said is a very real likelihood.
One relatively good piece of news on Friday is that the state only recorded 94 deaths related to Covid on Friday. That’s still 94 lives lost, as Governor Gavin Newsom often reminds residents, but it is a massive drop from the record 683 deaths the state recorded on January 5, 2020. That turned out to be the peak of the winter wave in terms of lives lost. During that time, the Golden State was the epicenter of the pandemic not just in the nation, but in the world. Its situation has vastly improved since then.
On Thursday, CDC data showed California’s case rate is the second-lowest in the U.S., just a hair behind Hawaii. The state has delivered more than 27 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, a number which Newsom often says is more than all but five or six countries in the world.
Speaking of countries, while many parts of the United States are still struggling with infections, the nation crossed 200 million doses delivered this week, with more than 1/3 of adults fully vaccinated. The CDC is expected to make an announcement regarding the safety of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Friday.
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