The winter Omicron surge is retreating across nearly all key data points in Los Angeles County except one: Deaths. Deaths each of the past two days have moved to near 100 from about 50 earlier in the week. While not an all-time high, those numbers are still substantial, especially when considered in a larger frame offered by public health officials today.
According to L.A. officials, Covid has been the leading cause of death in L.A. county over roughly the past two years. Offering data from March 2020 through December 2021, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said 24,947 lives lost to Covid. Second on the list is coronary heart disease, which was responsible for 21,513 deaths. For comparison — since it is often made — the flu took 3,422 lives in Los Angeles over the same period.
The total number of deaths related to Covid since the start of the pandemic in the county now sits at 29,099.
The numbers are even more remarkable given that pre-pandemic, coronary heart disease regularly stood 2X any other cause of death, whether premature or otherwise, according to L.A. Public Health Department data.
For instance, in 2017, coronary heart disease accounted for over 11,000 deaths in L.A. County. The number 2 cause of death that year was Alzheimer’s disease, at just over 4,100 lives lost. Pneumonia and influenza combined accounted for about 2,000 deaths.
The health department totals reported today span not the past two years, but 22 months ending on December 31, 2021. It’s safe to say, however, that that grim 22-month run has not abated in the month-plus since then and, given the current rising ICU numbers, will not for some days to come, since rising deaths almost always follow rises in ICU admissions. That means Covid will likely remain the leading cause of death in L.A. County in the short term, at the very least.
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