California now reporting 525 virus deaths every day
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — More Californians than ever are dying from the coronavirus -- a knee-bucking 525 every day — and with the number expected to keep climbing state officials said Friday they are sending more refrigerated trailers to act as makeshift morgues for overwhelmed county coroner’s offices.
There are now 98 of the trailers to help county coroners store bodies “with respect and dignity,” Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci said. In Los Angeles County, where on average a person dies every 6 minutes, temporary storage facilities have been set up in the parking lot adjacent to the coroner's office.
The Office of Emergency Services is using state hospitalization data to anticipate how many people may die in coming weeks. The state analyzes multiple models to try to predict hospitalizations and deaths. The “ensemble” projection that combines all the models is estimating another 10,000 people will die in the next three weeks.
It could be at least two weeks before the state knows the full extent of the virus’ damage during the holiday season when many people ignored pleas to stay home and not gather with friends and extended family. On average, about 12% of everyone who tests positive ends up hospitalized, so if there's a surge of new cases it will further overwhelm hospitals. And more people ultimately will die.
Ghilarducci said the state has activated its “mass fatality management plan” to try and avoid large backups in morgues.
“It is important to know that there is a plan, it is underway, and it is active today,” Ghilarducci said. “We will continue to work at that with each of our 58 counties to ensure that all of these folks are taken care of in the most respectful manner.”
The grim forecast stood in contrast to an upbeat news conference held Friday by Los...