California surpasses 15,000 coronavirus deaths, just behind Texas

A couple wearing protective masks on Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard near downtown Los Angeles.
A couple wearing protective masks walk along Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard near downtown Los Angeles.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Coronavirus deaths in California topped 15,000 on Sunday, another bleak milestone that puts the state just behind Texas in lives lost to COVID-19.

As of Sunday, California recorded 15,014 deaths, adding 27 Sunday and 77 Saturday — a reminder of the staggering loss even as new cases are falling. Los Angeles County has by far the most deaths from COVID-19 in the state, according to the Los Angeles Times tracker, with at least 6,353 people who have died.

The mounting death toll still remains far below that of New York, which has recorded more than 33,000 deaths, and New Jersey, with 16,000. Texas this weekend hit 15,088 .

These reports come in the weeks after Labor Day weekend and the start of a new school year. The number of new COVID-19 cases has notably increased this past week in 31 states compared with the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Only four states — Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana and Michigan — have reported decreases of more than 10%.

In California — which has more than 785,000 confirmed cases, the most of any state in the nation — the number of new cases has been leveling out. State and local officials are seeing signs of hope in recent drops in hospitalizations, but many are still holding their breath as case counts this week start reflecting a more accurate picture of infections from Labor Day weekend.

In Los Angeles County, health officials said the number of new daily cases has been rising for four days. Although that could be the result of the reopening of testing centers and an increase in testing, they said, it also may be linked to socializing over the recent holiday weekend.

According to figures released Sunday, the county reported 991 more cases of COVID-19, along with 23 additional deaths. The relatively lower numbers, officials noted, likely represent a weekend lag in reporting.


Of these deaths, county officials said 10 were older than 80, eight were ages 65 to 79, three were ages 50 to 64 and one was between 30 and 49. Almost all of them had underlying health conditions.

Orange County health officials also reported 1 new death Sunday, bringing the total to 1,128. The county also logged 190 new cases, for a total of 52,063.

Health officials said they will continue to monitor the numbers closely this week. Previous holiday weekends during the pandemic have sparked a surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths — which generally start showing up two weeks later. Barbara Ferrer, director of Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health, said the county should not reopen further until the numbers from Labor Day come into clearer focus.

“As we prepare for the fall, we must acknowledge that COVID-19 remains a significant threat,” Ferrer said. “Given the reality that as many as 50% of those infected [who] are able to transmit the virus to others may have no symptoms, taking universal precautions in every interaction with others who are not in your household, is absolutely essential.”

Officials also reminded residents that they must consider both flu and COVID-19 in the coming months. Given the strain the coronavirus has been putting on healthcare systems, getting an annual flu shot saves critical resources by keeping more people out of the hospital. Each year, tens of thousands of people in the United States are hospitalized or die from flu-related illness.

Last week, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved setting up drive-through flu vaccine clinics to get ahead of the potential “twindemic” of both the flu and COVID-19 circulating at the same time.

Flu shots are also provided at no cost or low cost at various locations throughout Los Angeles County. For more information, visit the county’s Department of Public Health website.