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Cities across southeast L.A. County to hold COVID-19 memorials today

Microscopic view of coronavirus isolated from a patient in the U.S.
(National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

The COVID-19 vaccine may be here, but several hard-hit communities in southeast Los Angeles County are still reeling from the devastating losses wrought by the pandemic. The city of Lynwood will hold a memorial Saturday to honor its 222 residents who have died from the coronavirus.

“The hard truth about COVID-19 is that it has hit our city and our neighbors very hard,” Lynwood Mayor Marisela Santana said in a statement. “Per capita, more people have died in the southeast region than anywhere else in L.A. County. These memorials on Saturday remind all of us not only of those whom we have lost but also will draw attention to the fact we need more vaccination sites in the region.”

Similar memorials were also planned Saturday in the cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Commerce, Cudahy, Hawaiian Gardens, Huntington Park, Montebello, Paramount and South Gate.

The region is home to many low-wage, front-line workers, and has been an epicenter of the pandemic. Predominantly working-class Latino and Black residents are more likely to live in overcrowded, multigenerational households — conditions ripe for spreading the coronavirus.

Among the 25 biggest metropolitan areas in the U.S., Los Angeles has the highest percentage of overcrowded homes — nearly twice that of New York, according to 2019 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Across Los Angeles County, 22,407 people have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to The Times’ coronavirus tracker. On Friday, 88 deaths were reported.

The vaccine rollout throughout the county has been uneven, leaving Black and Latino residents lagging behind white residents. For example, only 9.8% of Lynwood residents have been vaccinated, compared with 21% of Santa Monica residents, according to county data.

Saturday’s ceremony in Lynwood begins at 5:30 p.m. and will conclude a half-hour later. The names of the dead will be read aloud and officials will light 222 torches to commemorate each person. The memorial will be livestreamed on the city’s Instagram feed.


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