Blacks make up 6% of California’s population but 12% of coronavirus deaths, data show

A man waits Tuesday outside Kedren Community Health Center, which is offering walk-up coronavirus testing.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

The California Department of Public Health released data this week showing that the coronavirus is killing black residents in disproportionate numbers — a trend mirrored by Los Angeles County and local cities.

In numbers released this week, black Californians accounted for 7% of the state’s COVID-19 cases and 12% of its coronavirus-related deaths.

Blacks make up just 6% of the state’s population.

State officials said a fuller picture of racial demographics are coming into perspective as more information is included in COVID-19 reporting. As of this week, officials said data on race and ethnicity was complete for 65% of cases and 87% of deaths reported to the state.

This data provides a snapshot of how the pandemic is affecting Californians, but officials caution the ratios may change as local, county and state authorities ramp up testing efforts.

A Los Angeles Times analysis found that many of L.A. County’s whitest and wealthiest enclaves were reporting far higher rates of infection than poorer neighborhoods of color. However, public health officials said those disparities didn’t mean the virus was spreading more widely through richer neighborhoods than in poorer ones. Instead, the figures were likely skewed by uneven access to testing, and in some instances, by wealthy residents who traveled internationally and therefore had some of the earliest confirmed infections.

This partial data also shows that Latinos, who are 39% of the state’s population, account for 30% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths.

As of Wednesday, the state has 24,424 confirmed cases and 821 coronavirus-related deaths. Officials released the following breakdown of reported COVID-19 cases statewide:

Latino: 37%
White: 31%
Asian: 13%
Blacks: 7%
Multiracial: 2%
American Indian or Alaska Native: .2%
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 2%
Other: 8%


Here is a breakdown of those who have died:
Latino: 30%
White: 39%
Asian: 15%
Blacks: 12%
Multiracial: 1%
American Indian or Alaska Native: .4%
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 1%
Other: 2%

Statewide, more than 227,6000 tests have been administered through commercial, public and state and county health labs, officials said.

L.A. officials have been working to improve testing and other services in South Los Angeles and other black communities.

A coronavirus mobile testing site opened earlier this month at Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science to serve residents of Willowbrook, South Los Angeles and surrounding neighborhoods. Another opened this week at the Kedren Community Health Center in Historic South-Central L.A.