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Los Angeles County saw an average of 40 coronavirus deaths a day over the past week, the highest such rate in nearly 10 months, a sign that the prolific Omicron variant may be deadlier than many initially believed.

The county’s daily COVID-19 death rate has doubled in just a week, officials said. According to a Times analysis, the last time average daily deaths has been this high was for the seven-day period that ended on March 28, 2021.

The daily death tally in the county has climbed dramatically in recent days. On Tuesday, 15 deaths were reported; Wednesday, 39; Thursday, 45; Friday, 48; Saturday, 66, the highest number in more than nine months; and Sunday, 53.

“As deaths often lag behind surges in cases and hospitalizations, sadly, the increase in deaths does not come as a surprise, and tragically, we are prepared for even higher number of deaths in the coming weeks,” said L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

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