LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The coronavirus death rate in Los Angeles County is “slightly higher” for African Americans than other ethnicities, officials said Tuesday.
There were 550 new coronavirus cases and 22 deaths Tuesday in L.A. County, bringing the countywide total to 6,910 cases and 169 deaths.
The death rate has ticked up slightly to 2.4 percent. On Monday, it was at 2.3 percent.
For the first time, L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer released preliminary race and ethnicity information for a portion of those coronavirus patients who have died: 93 of the 169 victims.
Of those 93 people, 19 percent were Asian, 17 percent were African American, 28 percent were Latinx, 27 percent were white and 9 percent belonged to another race or ethnicity.
“African Americans have a slightly higher rate of death than other races and ethnicities,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer also explained that residents in more affluent communities have an easier time accessing testing than those in lower-income areas.
“One thing that we know already is that testing is happening much less in communities where most of the people who are living are living in poverty or close to poverty,” she said.
“I think that we are probably looking for an explosion, because of the under-testing,” said Kenneth Orduna, CEO for the Central Neighborhood Health Foundation, which operates six clinics treating underserved communities in South L.A. and Long Beach.
L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis said that officials were looking to increase testing capacity by the end of the week in the communities of Southgate, Commerce, Pico Rivera and West Covina through partnerships with Altamed and Presbyterian Hospital.
Solis added that a new drive-thru testing site will open at East L.A. College and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said a mobile testing clinic will open in South L.A. — both on Wednesday. They will offer free testing.
More than 35,300 people have now been tested countywide, with 14 percent coming in positive. However, there are an estimated 20,000 negative lab results which have not yet been reported by commercial labs, so the rate is believed to be inflated.
Meanwhile, of the 22 new deaths, 16 were among people ages 65 and older. All of those had preexisting conditions.
The other six patients were ages 41 to 65. Five of those had underlying conditions.
There are currently 869 people hospitalized in L.A. County, 43 percent of which are 65 or older. 132 people are in ICUs. 44 percent of those in ICUs are 65 and older.
There have been 552 confirmed coronavirus cases at 121 different “institutional settings,” which include nursing homes, assisted living facilities, jails, prisons, homeless shelters, treatment centers and supporting living facilities.
Thirty-six of those who have died so far were residents of either skilled nursing or assisted living facilities, and one person who died worked in a correctional setting, Ferrer disclosed.