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California Reports Record 149 Deaths From COVID-19; Inmate Firefighting Crews Hit Hard By Infections, Quarantine

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — California reported 149 deaths from COVID-19 Tuesday, the highest one-day number of deaths since the pandemic began.

"For those that just think, now people are getting it, no one's dying, that is very misleading," Gov. Gavin Newsom said at his briefing Thursday. "In fact, it's fundamentally untrue."

The previous one-day record of deaths reported in California was 115 deaths reported on April 22, during the height of the outbreak in California.

California has seen an average of 73 deaths over seven days, and both the 14- and 7-day positivity rate for the state is 7.3%, he said.

Newsom held Thursday's briefing at a CalFire facility to urge homeowners to stay alert during peak wildfire season. California has experienced a large increase in wildfire activity already this year, with 4,112 reported from January to July 5, but Newsom said that firefighters across the state have been able to contain them despite the significant increase.

However, many of the inmate hand crews that clear brush before they can catch fire have been hit hard by coronavirus infections, hampering the state's ability to prepare for and prevent wildfires. Out of the 192 crews usually available from the corrections department, only 94 are available this season.

He urged homeowners to create defensible spaces between their homes and brush.

"Just consider up here in Northern California, back to back to back triple-digit days. You can just look in your own backyard, you could see that brush turning brown," he said. "We are now walking right into the thick of firefighting season, wildfire season."

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