Preliminary data from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has revealed that communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. African Americans and Latinos are becoming infected and dying of COVID-19 at an alarming rate, underscoring longstanding racial disparities in access to quality health care. As the pandemic continues, it is crucial County public health officials report data on how the coronavirus is affecting people by race and ethnicity. To address this health inequity, the Board of Supervisors today approved a motion authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, and co-authored by Supervisor Kathryn Barger, directing County public health officials to provide a report back on racial and ethnic data on COVID-19 cases.

“The fact that many communities of color fare poorly in health outcomes, and are more susceptible to COVID-19, is not an accident. Decades of institutional racism have made our communities more vulnerable, so we must consider this reality in our policy solutions,” said Supervisor Solis. “We need our public health experts to keep a robust collection of data on COVID-19 patients to ensure resources are distributed equitably to high-need areas. In this public health crisis, we must do everything we can to remove barriers to care for disadvantaged populations. We have to take a hard look at the underlying racial and socioeconomic factors that make communities of color more vulnerable to dying from COVID-19 and identify long-term solutions to remedy these health inequities.”

“It is critically important to collect and share essential demographic data to understand the impact of COVID-19 on each of our communities across Los Angeles County,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “We remain committed to doing everything we can in collaboration with our partners to address this urgent need.”

Public health experts have said individuals with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems are at higher risk of dying from COVID-19. African Americans, Latinos and American Indians/Alaska Natives suffer from higher rates of chronic diseases as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. These underlying conditions make them more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 or requiring hospitalization once exposed to the virus.

Without a vaccine, physical distancing is our most effective tool in containing the spread of COVID-19. Yet, in immigrant and low-income communities it is more likely for families to share small living quarters with several family members in order to make ends meet. Under these conditions, it is nearly impossible for a relative to self-quarantine or self-isolate to protect other family members. LA County must continue to identify and address ongoing disparities and health inequities in order to better serve communities that access the County’s health care system.

Today’s motion calls for a report back that includes an analysis of COVID-19 testing data, including information on those who have tested positive by race and ethnicity.

In addition, the motion directs the County Departments of Public Health and Health Services to work together to include the following in a report back:

    • COVID-19 hospitalization data from County-operated medical centers, including average length of stay by race and age, when this data is available.

Further, the motion directs County public health officials to work with the Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner to include the following in a report back:

    • a breakdown of all COVID-19 fatalities by race, ethnicity, and age group, when this data is available.

 

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Contact: Rosa Maria Santana, Deputy Communications Director, 213-359-0795 or rsantana@bos.lacounty.gov