Death toll from California heat wave doubles in two weeks

Despite promises, California doesn’t know how many people died in record summer heat wave

A man with a hose makes his way down a street in a high-temperature area in San Diego on Wednesday, July 1, 2019, during a heat wave. A new report by the state says the death toll doubled in the two weeks after the heat wave. (Ringo H. Olsen / Associated Press)

A man with a hose makes his way down a street in a high-temperature area in San Diego on Wednesday, July 1, 2019, during a heat wave. A new report by the state says the death toll doubled in the two weeks after the heat wave. (Ringo H. Olsen / Associated Press)

(Ringo H. Olsen / Associated Press)

LOS ANGELES — The death toll in the record California heat wave is likely to rise and could double, the state’s public health agency said Thursday, as the number of people suffering heat-related illnesses soared to more than a third of the state.

The preliminary death toll from the deadly heat wave in the Golden State rose to at least 27 on Wednesday, while the number of people seeking medical treatment was at 150, said Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the state Department of Public Health. It was unclear whether the total number was higher.

“I’m worried about it reaching up into the 50s, which would be catastrophic,” Colfax said in a news conference. “This heat wave is not going away anytime soon.”

The state Department of Public Health said it learned of six new deaths Thursday; 19 so far for the week that ended Sunday. Officials said the two fatalities Wednesday were a man and woman, both in their 60s, who are in critical condition.

The deaths involved “persons from San Diego County, Orange County, Los Angeles County and northern California, plus a resident of the Panorama City area,” a state health official said.

In the last 24 hours, 13 people sought medical help to combat the heat, with five in the Southern California region, Colfax told reporters. That’s almost six times the number of people who sought medical treatment the previous week.

The numbers show a doubling of the death toll in the last week with respect to the previous two weeks combined. The state did not provide any

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