By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Vaccines are being distributed, and a regional stay-at-home order has been lifted, but January was still California’s deadliest month of the pandemic.

Patients rest in a hallway in the overloaded Emergency Room area at Providence St. Mary Medical Center on January 27, 2021 in Apple Valley, California. The hospital was treating over 170 COVID-19 patients at the peak of the surge but has seen a recent decrease and is currently caring for 87 confirmed or suspected coronavirus patients. California has eased lockdown orders amid fears of a new coronavirus variant. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The year started with a grim milestone – nearly 15,000 people died of COVID-19 in California in January.

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Densely-populated Los Angeles County has been the hardest hit in the Golden State, and recorded more than 6,400 COVID-19 deaths last month. About 5,200 remain hospitalized in Los Angeles County.

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Orange County announced 47 more have died of the virus, and 1,300 are still in the hospital. San Bernardino County also has 1,000 people still hospitalized, and recorded 17 more deaths.

Riverside County officials said 17 more of its residents have died, and 1,000 remain hospitalized, while in Ventura County, 20 people have died and more than 300 are still in the hospital.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom has lifted the regional stay-at-home order, allowing restaurants to offer outdoor dining and stores to increase their capacity, and vaccine distribution has opened up to people 65 and older, the most vulnerable population to COVID-19. But vaccine rollout has been slow, so public health officials say people should still continue to distancing themselves from others, wear masks and avoid gatherings – even after receiving the vaccine.