LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Communities in Los Angeles County with high rates of poverty are seeing three times the number of coronavirus deaths as communities with low rates of poverty, health officials reported Monday.

Homeless people wait to be checked in to a hotel room in Venice Beach, Calif., on April 26, 2020. The NGO St. Joseph Center is providing hotel rooms to homeless people at risk or infected with COVID-19 through Project Roomkey. (Getty Images)

L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer announced Monday that there were 900 new coronavirus cases over the past day and 29 new deaths. It brings the total number of cases in the county to 20,417; the death toll to 942.

Furthermore, Ferrer disclosed that there were 16.9 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people in L.A. County communities with high poverty, while communities with low poverty were seeing 5.5 deaths per 100,000.

“This data is deeply disturbing and it speaks to the need for immediate action in communities with disproportionately high rates of death,” Ferrer said. “This would mean increased testing, better access and connection to healthcare and support services, and more accurate, culturally appropriate information about COVID-19.”

Ferrer also disclosed that the death rate from coronavirus among African-Americans in L.A. County continues to be significantly higher than other races and ethnicities.

Of those who have died of the disease, 37 percent were Latinx, 28 percent were white, 14 percent were African-American, 8 percent were Asian and 1 percent were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.

L.A. County’s African-American population was seeing 13.2 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people. For Latinx the rate drops to 9.8. For Asians it falls again to 7.9, and for white people it falls further to 5.7.

Meanwhile, 1,968 healthcare workers and first responders in L.A. County have been diagnosed with coronavirus so far and 11 of those have died, the majority of which worked in nursing homes.

There was a spike of 527 new cases in the past week due to increased testing, particularly at nursing homes, Ferrer said.

Nurses account for 43 percent of all cases among healthcare workers.

About 75 percent of healthcare workers with coronavirus for whom the source of exposure is known were exposed in a healthcare facility, Ferrer said.

Ferrer said 423 residents at institutional settings in L.A. County have died of coronavirus, the majority of whom lived in nursing homes. That accounts for 45 percent of all coronavirus deaths in the county. Institutional settings include nursing homes, assisted living facilities, jails, prisons, homeless shelters, treatment centers and supporting living facilities.

Ferrer noted Monday that officials were initially slow to act in containing the outbreak at nursing homes because they did not know that COVID-19 could be spread by people who were infected but were asymptomatic.

“Now that we do know, our strategy is to offer testing to all residents and staff at skilled nursing facilities,” she said. “And we’re working closely with the department of health services to ensure adequate testing kits and capacity for specimen collection at the nursing homes.”

More than 123,700 people in L.A. County have now been tested for coronavirus, with 14 percent returning positive results.

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