California reports record high number of coronavirus deaths

Of the 70,000+ hospital beds in the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom said 42,000 are currently occupied.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California hit a record number of 159 COVID-related deaths on Friday, a day after it also reported a record-high 12,807 new cases over a 24-hour period. 

Governor Gavin Newsom did not mention this grim news during his coronavirus news conference. He did, however, speak on the modest decline in the new cases of the virus on Friday, Yahoo reports. 

“The rate of growth is beginning to decline modestly,” said Newsom of the 9,718 new cases as of Friday, “but that is nothing to jump up and down about.” 

Of the 70,000+ hospital beds in the state, Newsom said 42,000 are currently occupied.

Read More: California surpasses New York state in confirmed virus cases

“We’re a state, again, size of 21 states combined, so it’s not surprising now in some respects as we’ve begun to reopen key sectors of our economy,” said Newsom at a press conference. “People continue to mix and people continue to come in close contact with others that may have contracted this disease that our numbers would start to go up in total now.”

In response to the surge, Newsom has pumped the brakes on California’s reopening plan. He has closed all indoor businesses, including bars, dine-in restaurants, malls, movie theaters, museums, beauty salons/barbershops, places of worship, and fitness centers.

theGrio previously reported, California’s confirmed coronavirus cases have topped 409,000, surpassing New York for most in the nation, according to data from John’s Hopkins University. As of Wednesday, California had about 1,200 more cases than New York.

However, New York’s 72,302 deaths are by far the highest total in the country and nine times more than California’s tally, and its rate of confirmed infections of about 2,100 per 100,000 people is twice California’s rate.

California is by far the most populous U.S. state, with nearly 40 million people, while New York has about 19.5 million.

“Not enough focus has been given to essential workers in this state,” said Gov. Newsome on Friday, noting that the Latino community makes up half the cashiers in the state. 

“That’s the community that is increasingly being disproportionately being impacted,” he said. “This is where we’re seeing the spread: essential workforce, the Latino community.”

“We want to extend some longer-lasting worker protections,” he added. 

Read More: Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations on the rise in California, Arizona and Texas

On Twitter, Newsome noted that “topping the spread of #COVID19 depends on keeping our essential workforce safe,” he wrote. Adding: “Today CA announced new actions to increase safety.”

He then proposed the following:

-increasing preventative measures like ability to quarantine when exposed

-increasing employer education & a new employer safety handbook

That handbook was referenced last week by Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.

“We’re doing all we can to make sure that we control the rate of spread, despite crossing 400,000 cases in California,” Dr. Ghaly said Tuesday. “In the end, I really expect and hope California is going to be the state that adapted the most, learned the most and prepared the best.”

Amid the massive surge in cases, thirty-five out of California’s 58 counties are reportedly on the state’s watch list, including San Francisco County, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.

“We’re going to be doing some more strategic enforcement of our labor laws,” said Newsom, “in the spirit of an open hand, not an open fist.”

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