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Whites far less likely to die from the coronavirus than blacks, Latinos in L.A. County

Clarice Kavanaugh places a hand on the casket of her friend Charles Jackson at Inglewood Park Cemetery on April 15.
Clarice Kavanaugh places a hand on the casket of her friend Charles Jackson at Inglewood Park Cemetery on April 15. Jackson was diagnosed with COVID-19 after returning home from a ski trip in Idaho and died days later in the hospital.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

The coronavirus death rate among minorities is substantially higher than that of whites, according to Los Angeles County officials.

Whites were the least likely to die from the virus, with 13 fatalities reported per 100,000 Caucasian residents.

But for every 100,000 Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander residents, there were 53 to 154 deaths — a rate four to 12 times higher than for white people.

For every 100,000 black residents, there were 26 coronavirus deaths. That’s a death rate double that of whites.

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And for every 100,000 Latino residents, there were 22 deaths — a 70% higher death rate than whites.

Here’s what county officials reported last week about L.A. County residents whose race and ethnicity have been identified among those who have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Coronavirus deaths per 100,000 residents by race and ethnicity

Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 53 to 154 deaths per 100,000 Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander residents
Black: 26 deaths per 100,000 black residents
Latino: 22 deaths per 100,000 Latino residents
Asian American: 16 deaths per 100,000 Asian American residents
White: 13 deaths per 100,000 white residents

Since April 17, coronavirus infection rates have surged in L.A. County’s poorer neighborhoods, while cases have risen far more slowly in richer areas.

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Poverty associated with high coronavirus death rate

Those living in areas with higher rates of poverty suffered a coronavirus death rate nearly quadruple that of those living in areas with very low poverty levels, L.A. County’s director of public health, Barbara Ferrer, said last week.

Residents in areas with high rates of poverty: 41 deaths per 100,000 residents
Residents in areas with very low rates of poverty: 11 deaths per 100,000 residents

“The data remains deeply disturbing and it will require a lot of collaboration and work with our partners to address the inequities,” Ferrer said.

Some 70% of California voters believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is increasing inequality in the United States, according to a UC Berkeley IGS poll. Most also agreed that there were racial disparities in the virus’ effect.

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Of those dying from COVID-19 with underlying health issues, a significant share are younger adults

The percentage of people who have died from COVID-19 with underlying health conditions has slightly risen: About 93% of people who have died from the coronavirus in L.A. County have had underlying health conditions.

A significant share of those have been younger adults. About 40% of people who have died from the disease and also had underlying health conditions were under the age of 65.

About 35% to 40% of Los Angeles County residents have an underlying health condition, Ferrer said.

“I know sometimes folks think there’s a very tiny group of people who are at an elevated risk of serious illness from COVID-19. But here in L.A. County, it’s one out of three of us who has an underlying health condition that can put you or your loved one at a much higher risk for serious illness related to COVID-19,” she said.

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Most new infections are occurring among adults 65 or younger

Officials say 76% of all coronavirus cases in L.A. County are occurring among adults 65 or younger. That population makes up 57% of L.A. County.

“This is the age group that makes up the majority of our workforce,” Ferrer said. “So as more people are going back to work, it’s an important reminder that people at the workplace may be infected even if they aren’t feeling sick.

“And we need our employers, and our employees to work together to make sure that employees and customers are in an environment that’s as safe as possible,” Ferrer said last week.

The latest maps and charts on the spread of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, including cases, deaths, closures and restrictions.

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Deaths by population

Among people who reside in the jurisdiction of the L.A. County Department of Public Health — which does not include the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena, which have their own health departments — here are the demographics of people who have died from COVID-19 by age:

Age 18 to 40: 2.6%
Age 41 to 65: 20.1%
Older than 65: 77.3%

Here are the percentages of the population that the above age groups represent in L.A. County (numbers do not add up to 100% because of rounding):

Age 18 to 40: 35%
Age 41 to 65: 22%
Age older than 65: 14%

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Deaths by racial and ethnic group

Here are the percentages of L.A. County residents who have died, by race and ethnicity, as of Wednesday, from COVID-19:

Latino: 40%
White: 29%
Asian American: 17%
Black: 12%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 1%
Other: 1%

For comparison, here are the percentages of L.A. County residents by race and ethnicity:

Latino: 49.3%
White: 27.6%
Asian American: 14.5%
Black: 8.2%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 0.2%

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Latinos, California’s largest ethnic group, are generally younger than other demographics.

A Los Angeles Times analysis published last month found that black and Latino Californians ages 18 to 64 are dying more frequently of COVID-19 than their white and Asian counterparts relative to their share of the population.

Times staff writer Soumya Karlamangla contributed to this report.


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