50,000 known coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, the first state to reach that chilling milestone.

The news comes as a bleak reminder that the recent progress the state has made against the pandemic may be fragile. Most of those deaths were recorded recently, during a frightening winter surge that followed a period of relatively low case counts and a spreading hope that the virus could be controlled until vaccines arrived.

According to a New York Times database, California, the country’s most populous state, averaged more than 560 deaths a day at its peak in January. By contrast, for much of November, it reported fewer than 50 deaths a day on average.

It took nearly 10 months for Los Angeles County to hit 400,000 cases, but little more than a month to add another 400,000, from Nov. 30 to Jan. 2.

Though the state has reported more total deaths than any

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