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California this week became the first US state to record 3 million COVID-19 infections. But, within its borders, Californians have been living through two different pandemics. As the north begins to see encouraging signs that the latest, most severe period of the crisis is beginning to abate, southern California and the central valley have continued to face a deluge.
“For us, the pandemic has been coming like a slow drip, whereas in Los Angeles it’s been like an explosion,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco
In Los Angeles County, which has recorded more coronavirus cases than any other county in the US by far, an estimated one in three people may have been infected with the virus at some point during the pandemic. More than 15,000 have died. For weeks, hospitals – and especially their intensive care units and emergency rooms – have been packed beyond capacity, pushing them to prepare for the worst-case scenario of having to ration care. Hundreds each day are being brought from overcrowded hospitals to overflowing funeral homes.