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LA County Considers Workplace Safety Councils To Reduce Black, Latino COVID Deaths

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During the upsurge of COVID-19 cases that followed Memorial Day weekend family gatherings and business openings, Latinos in Los Angeles were dying at a rate more than four times higher than that of whites, while Blacks were twice as likely as whites to die of the disease. Two months later, death rates among Blacks and Latinos had fallen by more than half and were approaching the rate for whites, according to age-adjusted data from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

While four times as many Latinos as whites were reported COVID-positive in late July, the Latino case rates were only 64% higher by mid-September. The positivity rate among Blacks was 60% higher than that of whites in late July, but the disparity had waned by mid-September.

Experts can't be certain that any one policy is responsible for the decline in deaths among Blacks and Latinos in Los Angeles — and state and county rates have declined for the entire population in recent weeks. But L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer attributed the progress to her department's focus on workplace enforcement of health orders, which include rules about physical distancing, providing face coverings for workers and requiring face coverings for customers.

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Officials say they want to expand such efforts by creating workplace safety councils.

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