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In Crescent City, the mortuary is filled beyond capacity and needs a refrigerated truck to hold bodies. The small hospital is so full that it is lining up helicopters to fly COVID-19 patients out of remote Del Norte County. So many employees are out with coronavirus infections that businesses have closed.

Deaths in Del Norte County from COVID-19 have more thandoubled in recent weeks, from 10 on Aug. 15 to 22 on Friday. Four people died in a single day, officials said.

A year and a half into the pandemic — and eight months since highly effective vaccines became available — COVID-19 is surging across rural California, where inoculation rates are low, more intensely than it ever has before.

Del Norte County health officials believe there is an undercount in the number of people who have died from COVID-19 and that some never made it to the hospital. The coroner is investigating.

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