Many LA County COVID-19 deaths could've been prevented if everyone had same access, public health says

Public Health said Friday that several hundred of the county's COVID-19 deaths could've been prevented if minority groups and those at lower poverty levels had the same income levels and access to healthcare as white residents.

“Excess deaths assumes that if one group in your community that observes a relatively better outcome, then that should be able to be experienced by every other community,” explained the county's Public Health Director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer.

According to Ferrer, if the rate of deaths was the same for every group as it was for the group with the lowest death rate, i.e. white residents, there would be 485 fewer deaths among Latinos/Latinx residents, 143 fewer deaths among African-American residents and 125 fewer deaths among Asian residents.

Additionally, there were 981 excess deaths in areas with higher poverty levels.

“These numbers are absolutely devastating and represent lives that have been lost," said Ferrer. "They also starkly show how inequities have a life and death consequence.”

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Public Health continues to track disproportionality in health outcomes by race, ethnicity and income level data of people who have been tested, hospitalized and died from COVID-19. 

Of the 2,373 COVID-19 deaths in the county where race and ethnicity data was available, 41% were Latino/Latinx, 28% were White, 18% were Asian, 12% were African American, 1% were Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders and less than 1% identified with another race or ethnicity.

Public Health says the data shows that African Americans, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, and people living in communities with high levels of poverty continue to have the highest rate of death per 100,000 people for COVID-19 when compared to other groups.

African Americans have a death of 31 per 100,000 individuals infected with COVID-19, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders have a death rate of 30 per 100,000 people, Latinos/Latinxs have a death of 29 per 100,000 people, Asians have a death rate of 21 per 100,000 people, and Whites have a death rate of 15 per 100,000. 

Public Health says it is continuing collaboration with community, healthcare, and philanthropic partners to improve testing, connection to care and services, and in-language and culturally appropriate communications to the communities experiencing these inequitable outcomes.