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Black residents most at risk for COVID-19 in LA County

In a troubling change, black residents of Los Angeles County now have the highest risk of coronavirus infection and COVID-19 hospitalizations and death of any racial or ethnic group, according to new data.

Since the early months of the pandemic, LA County Latinos have been the hardest hit group; the COVID-19 death rate among Latino residents topped that of all other racial and ethnic groups for the first time 11 months ago and has remained in the lead for the second and third waves of the pandemic.

But in recent weeks there has been an undeniable change, and now black residents are twice as likely as Latinos and three times as likely as White and Asian American residents to die from COVID-19. Black residents are also twice as likely to contract the coronavirus as white or Latino residents of LA County, according to data presented by the Department of Public Health.

In a recent six-week period, there was a daily average of 45 newly diagnosed coronavirus cases per 100,000 black residents. Yet for every 100,000 White and Latino residents, there were about 25 newly diagnosed coronavirus cases per day among these residents; and for every 100,000 Asian American residents, there were 11 new cases of coronavirus per day.

In terms of deaths from COVID-19, per 100,000 black residents, there was on average about 1 death per day among black residents during the same period. In contrast, per 100,000 Latino residents, there were about 0.5 deaths per day among Latino residents; for every 100,000 white and Asian American residents, there were 0.34 deaths per day among those residents.

These rates are well below those at the peak of the pandemic. Overall, daily coronavirus cases are still on the decline in LA County and are at their lowest level since March 2020. The most recent coronavirus positivity rate for LA County is a tiny 0.5 %.

Nonetheless, the latest data is a harbinger of what could happen if vaccination rates do not improve significantly among black residents.

Only 40% of black residents aged 16 and over have received at least one dose of the vaccine in LA County – the lowest percentage of any racial or ethnic group. Among Latino residents of the same age, 48% are at least partially vaccinated, as are 62% of White residents and 71% of Asian American residents.

“Who is infected and who is in the hospital is probably a reflection of… lower vaccination rates in some of our hard-hit communities. This will mean that we must continue to bring the vaccine to the places where people live and work, and we must work hard to provide high quality information about the vaccine to those who have questions about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. vaccine, ”LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

The relatively lower vaccination rates among black and Latino residents have long been a warning sign to authorities. If too few black and Latino residents were vaccinated before California fully reopens its economy, these communities of color – due to the fact that they have more unvaccinated people – will continue to be at higher risk for epidemics. COVID-19 and death.

“Where we have lower vaccination rates it will be increasingly likely that these – unfortunately – will be people who are more easily infected, end up being hospitalized and may tragically die,” Ferrer said. “If we can’t close the immunization gap fast enough, we will see, I think, once again this tragedy around the disproportion between who has the most devastating health outcomes.”

Warning signs don’t just appear in LA County. In the nation’s capital, black residents make up 45% of the population but now account for 82% of new coronavirus cases in the last 10-day period, according to a Washington Post analysis. While 19.8% of black Washington residents have been fully vaccinated, 28.8% of white residents are fully vaccinated.

Dr Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at UC San Francisco, expressed dismay at the disparity in Washington in a Tweeter. “The consequences of not focusing on those most affected throughout the pandemic are devastating,” Bibbins-Domingo wrote.

Polls show authorities need to do more to reach out to black and Latino communities about how and where they can get vaccinated. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that black and Latino residents were twice as likely as white residents to not know where to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Black and Latino adults were more likely than white adults to worry about being absent from work because of the vaccination, not being able to get the vaccine in a place they trust, having to pay for the vaccine (even if it is free) and difficulty getting vaccinated. transport to a vaccination site, the Kaiser Family Foundation found. Young black and Latino adults are also more likely than young white adults to want to “wait and see” before getting a COVID-19 vaccine, the foundation found.

As a result, authorities have tried to establish more mobile vaccination clinics in areas where people do not have easy access to transport. LA County has also set up a website for people to apply for an immunization clinic to be set up at their workplace, organization, or special event.

President Biden said employers can get tax credits to give paid time off to employees who have to take time off work for vaccinations and deal with mild side effects – like fever or fatigue – which are common one day after receiving the vaccine. .

State and local authorities have started to look to prices to renew interest in vaccinations.

In LA County, authorities have announced a raffle where the grand prize is season tickets to the Kings or the Galaxy. You can become eligible by receiving your first COVID-19 vaccine – or bringing someone in to receive their first dose while you receive your second – Friday through Thursday at vaccination clinics run by LA County, City of Los Angeles or St. John’s Well Child & Family Center, which operates in communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

Statewide, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the “Vax for the Win” program that aims to distribute $ 116.5 million in cash and other prizes to those vaccinated. The grand prize gives 10 California residents the chance to win $ 1.5 million each.

Officials hope the programs will help increase the incentive for people to get vaccinated.

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