Los Angeles Coronavirus Update: One Demographic Group Being Ravaged By COVID-19 At Much Higher Rates Than Others

Los Angeles Coronavirus Update: One Demographic Group Being Ravaged By COVID-19 At Much Higher Rates Than Others

August 19, 2020

We learned last week that young adults are “now driving infections in L.A. County.”

We know that “Healthcare workers continue to be the most affected” worker population in the county, according to health officials.

We know from Governor Gavin Newsom that, statewide, the Latino community continues to be disproportionately impacted.

But there is a smaller group in L.A. County that has fared worse than any of these: Pacific Islanders.

Case rates for Pacific Islanders are six times higher than white residents in L.A. County.

Even Latinos who are, numerically, the hardest-hit population in the state, have a case/hospitalization/mortality rate that’s half that of Pacific Islanders.

Pacific Islanders experience 3,313 coronavirus cases/hospitalizations/mortalities per 100,000. Latinos, by comparison, have seen 1,603 per 100,000. For the white population of L.A. County, the rate is just 549 per 100,000.

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According to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, a Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander is defined as follows: “A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands. (The term ‘Native Hawaiian’ does not include individuals who are native to the State of Hawaii by virtue of being born there.”

More broadly, L.A. County reported 61 new deaths on Wednesday, for a total 5,392 people who have passed away from COVID-19 thus far in L.A. County.

The county health department reported 1,956 new cases on Wednesday, including 100 cases from the state’s backlog and a few hundred cases from one lab that was slow in reporting results. The total number of of coronavirus cases in the county to date is 225,827.

The number of hospitalizations curve “has continued to decrease, though the slope of that decrease has flattened out,” said Dr. Christina Ghaly, the director of the county department of health and human services.

“We should not except that steep decline to continue,” she said. “That’s simply the nature of infections. They are going to stay around with us and COVID-19 is going to be around for a while. We have to remember that this is not a sprint, but a marathon.”

Ghaly also noted that the transmission number — the rate at which every infected person passes the virus on to someone else — is now 0.92. Last week that number was 0.86. Ideally, the number would be under 1.

Gahly reminded that the transmission number we see now is reflective of actions taken — or not — in the last three weeks. “We will have to watch the data over the next week to know if this small increase…is, in fact significant.”

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