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In LA County, African Americans May Be Dying From COVID-19 At A Higher Rate, And The Poor Are Getting Tested Less

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African Americans who test positive for COVID-19 and get sick are dying at a slightly higher rate compared to other races and ethnicities, according to preliminary data from Los Angeles County public health officials.

The new data shared by public health director Barbara Ferrer comes with a big caveat: it's based on just 93 cases, and the county still doesn't have demographic data on about 43% of the people who have died. But the early analysis is sobering, as reports from other parts of the country are beginning to suggest similar outcomes.

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Here's the breakdown Ferrer gave on those deaths:

  • 19% Asian
  • 17% African American
  • 28% "Latinx"
  • 27% White
  • 9% belonging to another race or ethnicity
And here's Ferrer:
"When we look at these numbers by the total population of each group, African Americans have a slightly higher rate of death than other races and ethnicities, and we will be watching this closely as we gather more information about the remaining 43% of people who have passed away."

Ferrer said the county is working hard to fill in the blanks and will be watching this data closely moving forward. She urged providers, hospitals and labs to collect and report race and ethnicity data so the county can begin to understand the burden of disease across different populations.

Ferrer also said she hopes the county will have a more detailed report on hospital demographics in about a week.

Meanwhile, the county now has a clear indication that access to testing has been skewed along socioeconomic lines, as testing is happening much less in poorer communities than in wealthier ones, Ferrer said.

"People who are living in wealthier communities have had, in fact, better access to testing and in fact have been tested more than people who are living in communities where income levels are much lower, and we will be producing a complete report on what we know about access to lab testing by early next week."

Here are the latest numbers for L.A. County:
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  • 22 more deaths, 16 who were over the age of 65 and with underlying health conditions, and six people who were 41-65 — all but one with underlying health conditions
  • 169 total deaths so far, with a mortality rate now at 2.4%
  • 550 new cases today and 970 in the last 48 hours
  • 6,910 total cases, including 230 in Long Beach and 72 in Pasadena
  • 10 cases among the homeless, with one who may have resided in a city shelter
  • 1,510 hospitalized so far
  • 869 currently in the hospital, of which 43% are over 65 and 18% are under 45
  • 132 people in intensive care — 53% of them with underlying conditions and 44% who are 65 or older
  • 121 institutional settings now have active COVID-19 investigations, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, shelters, treatment centers and supported living in correctional facilities
  • 37 residents have died in skilled nursing facilities, assisted living and 1 in a correctional institution
  • 30 cases in jail facilities, including 1 inmate and 29 staff
  • 10 cases in state prison, including 8 inmates and 2 staff
  • 2 cases in juvenile facilities, both of them staff
  • 3 cases among homeless shelters and temporary housing facilities — 1 a resident at a shelter, and 2 staff
  • 35,300 people tested as of April 6, 14% of them positive (though that number will shift when an estimated 20,000 negative test results are included from commercial labs)

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