For the second day in a row, Los Angeles County reported no new COVID-19 deaths on Sunday.
It’s a massive milestone for California’s most populous area, just a few short months after it was in utter crisis with more than 300 people dying a day in January.
For well over a year – 411 days – the county saw at least one Covid death a day. At the height of the pandemic there in January, the Los Angeles was so overwhelmed by the bodies of COVID-19 victims that its morgues were overflowing and its parking lots became home to eerie mobile morgues.
Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom instituted some of the nation’s strictest and most prolonged lockdowns, but it seemed to do little to California’s massive Covid crisis, which has sickened more than 3.6 million people there and killed at least 60,763.
But vaccinations rose steeply in L.A. county, which has fully vaccinated nearly 36 percent of its population – ahead of the national average – and has gotten at least one dose into the arms of 54 percent of residents.
From a peak of nearly 300 deaths per day in early January, LA County in California reported no COVID deaths on Saturday May 1, or Sunday May 2
Once one of the hardest hit states in the nation, California now has the lowest daily infection rate in the U.S., with 2.7 cases per 100,000 people and 15 new deaths recorded on Sunday
Dr Anthony Fauci noted last week that Covid cases and deaths start to fall off precipitously once a country has 40 to 50 percent of its population fully vaccinated.
The same tipping point likely applies to LA, and is beginning to drive down the county’s coronavirus cases and deaths.
Yesterday, Los Angeles County recorded just 210 new Covid cases, down from a seven-day rolling average of 480 infections a day a month prior.
But health officials warned that the landmark of zero daily deaths may be due to an undercount because of delays in reporting COVID figures on weekends, the The LA Times reports.
Health officials on Sunday reported that there had been 313 new cases and 410 hospitalizations Saturday in the county, which comprises a large swathe of Los Angeles city’s metropolitan area and has a population of more than 10 million people.
California now has the lowest COVID rate of any state in the country after suffering alternating waves of death and lockdown over the past 12 months.
Disneyland reopened for the first time since the pandemic began last year, at 25% its operating capacity. Pictured: a family takes a photo while at the theme park, where they are required to keep their masks on except while eating or drinking
The state’s seven-day rolling average of new cases per capita now stands at 32.5 – far than the next lowest infection rate, which is in Oklahoma with about 40.3 new cases per 100,000 people a day according to data from the CDC.
On the heels of its declining case, hospitalization and death trends, the state’s playgrounds officially reopened on Monday.
The springtime scenes paint a very different picture of Los Angeles than the beginning of the year did.
Less than four months ago, Los Angeles County experienced its deadliest day when a record 290 died on January 8, according to official figures.
LA County recorded its first COVID death on March 19 last year, when four people died.
In-person learning has finally resumed in Los Angeles, and playground reopened on Monday
The pace of vaccinations has slowed in LA, as it has across the country, but the county has already vaccinated more than half of its population with at least one dose. Pictured: A nearly empty mass vaccination site in Los Angeles on Monday
The death rate quickly grew to more than 40 and hovered between 30 and 40 until late August.
The state was plunged into one of the nation’s strictest lockdowns, with residents only permitted to leave their homes for groceries and exercise.
California became the first state to issue a statewide stay-at-home order last spring and has endured the nation’s longest lockdown.
The state operated a complicated color-coded tier system that would determine restrictions county-by-county.
The restrictions were eased as the death rate reduced to around 15 per seven day rolling average in October.
But the virus stubbornly crept back up during a second wave in November.
Daily deaths reached more than 100 a day for the first time on December 11 and peaked at 290 deaths on January 9.
Some 6,411 people died in January alone.
But as the vaccine rollout gathered pace, LA County flattened the curve.
Now, California boasts the country´s lowest rate of confirmed coronavirus infections and more than half of the population eligible for vaccination has received at least one dose.
Children have been returning to in-person classes, shops and restaurants are expanding business, and Gov. Gavin Newsom set June 15 as a target date to further reopen the economy, albeit with some health-related restrictions.
Disneyland in Los Angeles has reopened at 25 percent its full operating capacity.
Visitors must wear masks and can remove them to eat only in designated areas. Hugs and handshakes with characters are off limits, and parades and fireworks shows have been shelved to limit crowding.
And the city’s famous beaches, such as Venice and Malibu, have been teeming with life in recent weeks.
While California continues to ‘strongly discourage’ anyone from visiting the state as tourists, the travel industry is banking on pent-up demand from its own nearly 40 million residents for a comeback.
An advertising campaign encourages Californians to travel within the state, mirroring a pitch made after 9/11.
Governor Gavin Newsom said last week the state was reviewing its mask mandate in light of new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control that allow vaccinated people to go maskless outside, unless they’re in a crowded area.
Across the US, the 14-day average for COVID deaths was 693 yesterday, according to the New York Times tracking data.
Some districts in Michigan, Utah, Oregon, Minnesota, Texas, Colorado and Washington state are reporting more than 50 cases per 100,000 people.