SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s coronavirus death toll has reached another once-unfathomable milestone — 70,000 people — even as the state emerges from the latest infection surge with the lowest rate of new cases among all states.
Last year at this time, cases in the state started ticking up and by January California was in the throes of the worst spike of the pandemic. Daily deaths approached 700.
The latest surge started in summer and was driven by the delta variant that primarily targeted the unvaccinated. At its worst during this spike, California’s average daily death count was in the low hundreds.
Data collected by Johns Hopkins University showed the state with 70,132 deaths by midday Monday. It’s the most in the nation, surpassing Texas by about 3,000 and Florida by 13,000, although California’s per capita fatality rate of 177 per 100,000 people ranks in the bottom third for the U.S.
“There’s very little if anything ever to compare that to,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s health secretary, said of the level of deaths.