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Ferrer: Poorer Coronavirus Outcomes For Minorities Linked To Police Brutality, Inequality

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Los Angeles County announced an additional 22 deaths of COVID-19 patients, along with 978 new confirmed cases today.

All of those who died in the last 24 hours had underlying health conditions, while 10 of those 22 victims were residents of skilled nursing facilities.

That brings the county's totals to 2,384 deaths and at least 55,968 cases, which also includes 1,947 cases reported by the cities of Pasadena and Long Beach.

Today's coronavirus update comes as officials extended the countywide curfew following days of protests and unrest sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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L.A. County public health director Barbara Ferrer extended her condolences over Floyd's death, and acknowledged the deaths of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by a police officer in Louisville, Kentucky in March, and Tony McDade, who was also shot and killed by police in Tallahassee, Florida.

Ferrer connected their deaths to what she previously called a “disturbing” trend in L.A. County’s COVID-19 data, with African Americans dying from the disease at a higher rate than other racial groups:

"When I report each week that we have seen elevated numbers of black deaths in this county due to COVID-19, I am reporting on the consequences of these longstanding inequities. And it's not just the direct victim of violence — the person who's beaten or shot or asphyxiated — who pays the price for brutality. It is an entire community that lives with the fear that the next time it could be them, or their son or daughter, neighbor, or friend. It is the consequence of that fear that we are seeing when we report instance after instance of inequality and health outcomes."

Ferrer also cautioned anyone participating in demonstrations to maintain physical distance as much as possible, and to wear face coverings:

“There's a lot of risk of these gatherings becoming super spreader events — that is, events where a great deal of transmission of the COVID-19 virus is happening,” she said. “Please take care for and protect all of the people around you. Wearing your face covering is a much needed act of kindness and respect.”

BY THE NUMBERS:

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Ferrer also gave an update on the county’s breakdown of COVID-19 deaths by race.

Of the 2,200 deaths where race and ethnicity are identified:

  • 41% Latino [48.6% of county residents]
  • 28% White [26.1% of county residents]
  • 17% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
  • 12% African American [9% of county residents]
  • 1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
  • 1% identified with another race or ethnicity

To date, 94% of all those who have died had some underlying health condition.
Health officials also confirmed the first coronavirus death of a pregnant woman and her baby. Ferrer said the woman had “significant” underlying health conditions, though she did not specify if those conditions were related to her pregnancy.

So far, 228 pregnant women countywide have tested positive for COVID-19, with 79% of them presenting symptoms. There have been 52 live births and 4 non-live births among pregnant women who have tested positive, and 40 infants who were tested at birth all tested negative for the virus.

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