68 coronavirus deaths reported in California over last 24 hours, one of state’s highest rates so far

California

California saw 68 COVID-19 deaths over the last 24 hours, raising the total number of people who have succumbed to the infectious disease to 442, Gov. Gavin Newsom said at his daily news conference on Wednesday.

It’s one of the highest death rates the state has seen so far, Newsom said. And it’s more than double the 31 deaths announced just the day before, when the governor described a steady but slow growth in coronavirus cases in California.

With increasing evidence that the pandemic may be disproportionately affecting communities of color, the state, like Los Angeles County, will begin collecting and analyzing demographic data on COVID-19 cases.

Racial information as of Wednesday is only available for 37.2% of cases across the state, but the deadly cases have thus far fallen along population lines, according to the governor.

Figures released later Wednesday by state health officials show African Americans, Latinos and Asians have been infected at rates proportional to their makeup of the population, based on data available so far. But Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders — who account for 0.3% of the population — represent 1.6% of cases and 1% of deaths.

The state has confirmed a total of 16,957 positive cases of COVID-19, 16% of them involving patients who needed to be hospitalized.

Of the 2,714 patients in hospitals, about 42% are in intensive care units.

As increases in hospitalization and ICU rates remain in the single digits, Newsom also announced significant progress in the procurement of personal protective equipment.

Officials have secured and distributed more than 41 million N95 masks, including about 1 million from the strategic national stockpile.

The governor cited support from California’s partners abroad, U.S. organizations and agencies, including FEMA, as well as the private sector.

As California scales up its supplies and resources, “we will avail ourselves to others in need,” Newsom said.

“We think we’re in a very different place than we were in a week or so ago,” Newsom said, adding that incoming supplies are especially needed now with new mandates for facial coverings across the state.

He also encouraged those looking for work to look through the 110,000 jobs available through www.onwardca.gov. About 2.4 million Californians have applied for unemployment benefits since March 12, Newsom said.

Asked about when the statewide stay-at-home order will be lifted, the governor said: “Depends on you. It depends on 40 million others in the state of California and their commitment to following through on the stay-at-home orders, their commitment to have appropriate face coverings … and their commitment to physical distancing over the course of the next number of weeks so that we can get through this very difficult time and continue to bend that curve.”

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