Following extensive checks of death records, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health identified an additional 806 COVID-19 -associated deaths that were not initially recorded as COVD-19 deaths.
“It is heartbreaking to report on this large number of additional deaths associated with COVID-19 and a devastating reminder of the terrible toll the winter surge has taken on so many families across the county,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of Public Health.
The majority of these deaths occurred during the winter surge between Dec. 3, 2020 and Feb. 3, 2021, a period when many deaths occurred and not all were reported to public health officials due to the volume of records. The L.A. County Public Health Department identifies COVID-associated deaths primarily by submission of Death Report Forms from healthcare providers. Additionally, vital records are used to identify deaths related to COVID-19 by reviewing the cause of death listed on death certificates. This review of vital records, delayed by the high volume of Death Report Forms during the surge, identified the additional deaths.
Public Health has already reported 9,712 deaths that occurred between December 2020 and January 2021 and were reported through Death Report Forms. Therefore, 92% of deaths that occurred during that period were previously reported.
Despite news of this backlog, cases and deaths have continued to drop in the county. On Wednesday, Public Health confirmed 136 new deaths and 2,157 cases of COVID-19 — tragically pushing the total number of deaths to 20,987.
Officials also confirmed a total of 18 cases of COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 (U.K. variant), in Los Angeles County. Among the new cases are two that have been confirmed as part of a small outbreak at USC.
There are 2,064 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized, 30% of these people are in the I.C.U.