Why New York has 12 times as many coronavirus deaths as California

As the coronavirus started to spread in the US, California, not New York, might have seemed a likelier place for the pandemic to peak. California, the nation’s most populous state, was among the first to report cases. The first possible case of community transmission in the US was reported in California on February 26; the state reported its first death on March 4. New York lagged by days, reporting its first community transmission case on March 3 and first death on March 14.

But just over a month after California’s first coronavirus death, as of April 8, the state has seen more than 17,000 cases and about 450 deaths — while New York state has more than 140,000 cases and about 5,500 deaths.

Experts say it’s too early to definitively say why California is faring so much better than New York. One factor, though, is that California simply acted more quickly than New York once it became clear that coronavirus was starting to spread in the US. If cases in California remain under control while those in New York soar — still a very big if — the experience could carry important lessons for how to deal with Covid-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.