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'Deeply Disturbing' Data: Poorer LA Communities Have Much Higher Coronavirus Death Rate

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Los Angeles County officials reported 900 new cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 20,417 cases countywide. Of those cases, 576 were reported in Long Beach and 325 in Pasadena (those two cities operate their own health departments).

L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer also reported 29 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. Of those victims, 25 were over the age of 65, and 18 of those people had underlying health conditions.

The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 942.

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Ferrer noted that 92% of those who have died had underlying health conditions and urged county residents with conditions including asthma and cancer to "do your very best to stay home, or avoid close contact with all others as much as possible and, at the very first sign of illness, contact your health care provider."

Ferrer also provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information confirmed for 865 of the victims. According to the latest available information:

  • 14% African American [9% of county residents]
  • 18% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
  • 37% Latino or Latina [48.6% of county residents]
  • 28% White [26.1% of county residents]
  • 1% Hawaiian native or Pacific Islander
  • 1% identified as belonging to a different race or ethnicity

The county also broke down the death rate by ethnicity, measured per 100,000 residents. As of Monday, those death rates are:

  • African Americans: 13.2 per 100K
  • Latinos and Latinas: 9.8 per 100K
  • Asian: 7.9 per 100K
  • White: 5.7 per 100K

Ferrer also noted that county residents living in areas with high rates of poverty are dying at a rate about three times that of communities with low poverty rates. She said:

"This data is deeply disturbing and it speaks to the need for immediate action in communities with disproportionately high rates of death. And this would mean increased testing, better access and connection to health care and support services, and more accurate culturally appropriate information about COVID-19, and we're joining with our partners in the community to make sure this happens."

L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced she and fellow Supervisor Hilda Solis will introduce a motion at tomorrow’s Board of Supervisors meeting to initiate the first steps of economic recovery. The motion will “create a permanent, nonprofit” [county] fund to raise money for grants and provide economic security for job seekers and for small businesses,” she said.
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The priority, Barger said, will be to reopen businesses closed and struggling amid the coronavirus crisis.

“My colleagues and I have heard heart-wrenching stories from people who are struggling to put food on the table and don't see any relief in sight,” Barger said. “We need to support and unify families, communities and businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19.”

Here are some other key figures being reported today:

  • More than 123,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 and had the results reported to county health officials. Of those tests, 14% have been positive.
  • There are currently 1,845 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those individuals, 28% are in the ICU, with 15% on ventilators.
  • In total 4,403 people who've tested positive for coronavirus in L.A. County have "at some point" been hospitalized, Ferrer said, which represents 23% of all positive cases.
  • The death toll at the county’s institutional settings, particularly nursing homes, continues to climb. Ferrer reported that 423 residents at those facilities have died. That number represents 45% of all deaths countywide.
  • The number of confirmed cases among health care workers and first responders has grown to 1,968. Ferrer said the increase is because of increased testing and improved reporting. “The vast majority of cases are among health care workers from skilled nursing facilities and hospitals,” she added. In total, 11 health care workers have died from COVID-19 since January.
  • Ferrer said 118 cases have been confirmed among L.A. County residents who are homeless — 68 of whom were sheltered. Twelve homeless shelters are currently being investigated for possible cases.
  • The county health department is currently investigating 312 institutional facilities that have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19. Those sites include nursing homes, assisted living facilities, shelters, treatment centers, supportive living and correctional facilities. Ferrer did not provide an update on the number of confirmed cases in those facilities, citing “data collection and reporting issues.”
  • There have now been 142 confirmed cases “at some point in time” in county jail facilities, Ferrer reported. There have been 71 cases among inmates and 71 among staff.

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