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L.A. County Latinos Still Dying From COVID-19 at Higher Rates Than Other Groups

The death rate is the number of deaths from COVID-19 per 100,000 population in each race/ethnicity group. Latinos and African Americans are experiencing a disproportionate rate of deaths from COVID-19. | Graph courtesy of L.A. County Department of Public Health

In Los Angeles County, as in the rest of the nation, people living in low-income neighborhoods and people of color have been disproportionally affected by COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. And while cases and deaths are dropping overall in the county, there remains a large gap between Latinx residents and other groups.

When the surge began in early- November, the average number of Latino residents in the county who passed away each day was 3.4 deaths per 100,000 people and then sharply increased to 51 deaths per 100,000 people in mid-January. As of Feb. 12, the mortality rate among Latino residents has declined to 25 deaths per 100,000 people, yet still remains more than double that of other groups. And while rates are declining for all groups, the mortality rate for Latinx residents is currently 38% higher than that of white residents at the peak of the surge. 

Since mid-January, the mortality rate among African American/Black residents decreased from nearly 22 deaths per 100,000 people to nine deaths per 100,000 people. Deaths among Asian residents have declined since the peak, from 19 deaths per 100,000 people to eight deaths per 100,000 people. The current mortality rate among white residents is also eight deaths per 100,000 from the peak of about 17 deaths per 100,000.

“Our Latinx community is bearing the worst in the pandemic,” L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday. “While we’ve come to the other side of the terrible surge, it’s important to remember that we did so with tremendous heartbreak, illness and death.”

Latinos also continue to have a higher case rate than other groups. For Latino residents, daily age-adjusted rate of cases per 100,000 people peaked by more than 2,400 new cases per 100,000 people in early January. That average has dropped to 453 new cases per 100,000 people as of Feb. 12, but it is still almost two times that of Black/African American residents, who have the second highest case rate of nearly 234 new cases per 100,000 people. Asian residents and white residents have the lowest case rate at around 180 new cases per 100,000 people.

There also continues to be a high mortality rate among people living in areas with the highest levels of poverty, with three times the death rate compared to people living in the lowest levels of poverty. As of Feb. 12, the mortality rate for the poorest areas in the county was 27 per 100,000 people in those neighborhoods. By comparison, the wealthiest areas saw about nine daily deaths per 100,000 residents.

“We definitely have populations that have suffered disproportionately from COVID-19,” Ferrer said.

As residents are vaccinated, the data has exposed a very similar pattern of inequity. The rate of vaccination among white and Asian residents in L.A. County continues to be significantly higher than that among Black/African American and Latino/Latinx residents, according to the Department of Public Health. Black/African Americans have received 5.2% of vaccinations administered, while accounting for 9% of the 16 and older population. Latinx residents received 23% of vaccinations, while accounting 46% of the 16 and older population.

Data among vaccinated seniors mirrors these findings. White and Asian residents 65 and older continue to have the highest vaccination rate. As of Feb. 20, almost 48% of white residents and almost 45% of Asian seniors have received at least one dose of the vaccine. By comparison, only 38% of American Indian/Alaska Native residents, 34% of Latinx residents, and 29% of Black senior have received at least one dose.

Ferrer says improving access to the vaccine in heavily-impacted areas is a priority.

Data on the relative percent change from the week of Feb. 9 to the week of Feb. 20, shows the county is making some progress. The vaccination rate for Black/African American residents saw the largest increase at almost 45%. For American Indian/Alaska Native residents, the vaccine rate increased 37.1%, and Latino residents’ vaccine rate increased by 31.9%. The vaccine rate for white residents increased by 25.1% and for Asian residents increased 21.9%.

For information about vaccine appointments in L.A. County and when your turn is coming up, to sign up for a vaccination newsletter, and much more, visit: www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English) and www.VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish).

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