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Coronavirus cases in California surpass 500,000 in troubling milestone

Alex Wigglesworth, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in California surpassed 500,000 on Friday, a troubling milestone that caps more than a month of surging outbreaks across the state.

COVID-19 cases have been spiking since late May as California reopened the economy and people got back to old routines. Deaths and hospitalizations have also risen, prompting officials to roll back some reopening measures in hopes of slowing the spread.

Once considered a coronavirus success story, California -- the nation's most populous state -- now leads the United States in the number of confirmed cases. More than 9,100 people in California have died. But that is still far below the death toll in New York, which has reported more than 32,000 fatalities.

Officials announced Friday that a teenager in the Central Valley had died of causes related to COVID-19, becoming the first juvenile death from the disease in California.

Officials said the teen had underlying health conditions but declined to provide additional information about age or county of residence, citing patient privacy concerns.

"Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of this young person whose death is a tragic and powerful reminder of how serious COVID-19 can be," Dr. Sonia Angell, the state public health officer, said in a news release.

 

The teen died earlier this week at Valley Children's Hospital in Madera, the hospital said in a statement.

"The death of this patient reaffirms that children ... are not immune from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," the statement said.

No other COVID-19-related death of a person under 18 has been confirmed by the state since the pandemic began. In March, Los Angeles County public health officials announced that a 17-year-old was believed to have died of causes related to the coronavirus but later said more investigation was needed.

The news comes as the Central Valley has emerged as a hot spot for new cases in California, accounting for all of the five counties with the highest number of new cases per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks, according to the Los Angeles Times' statewide coronavirus tracker.

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