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When the number of people being sent to the hospital with COVID-19 began to creep up in Los Angeles County early this summer, officials warned that a major increase in deaths was inevitable. A record-breaking number of cases could result in a record-breaking number of deaths, they predicted.

But nearly two months later, that has not materialized. The coronavirus continues to kill hundreds of people every week in L.A. County, but the death toll has remained lower than expected.

The trend is due in part to younger people falling sick, as well as better control over the disease’s spread in high-risk settings, such as nursing homesBut doctors say there’s another factor pushing up survival rates: better treatments.

It was so grim in the beginning,” said Dr. Armand Dorian, an ER physician and chief medical officer for Verdugo Hills Hospital at USC. “Now we actually have regimens of treatments that do help. … Since the beginning, say, February to now, we’ve learned a lot.”

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