Latinos in LA area disproportionately affected by COVID

The virus-related death toll among Latinos is double that of whites, data shows.

January 26, 2021, 6:31 PM

With California ending a regional stay-at-home order issued because of strained capacity in the state's intensive care units, current COVID-19 data suggests that the local Latino community has been hit the hardest of all.

The state reported 4,131 ICU-related COVID cases last month, which has since increased to 4,475. California, as of Tuesday, also reported more than 27,000 new cases and at least 328 deaths. When broken down by race, the state's death count was at 1,195 Black people, 3,370 white people and 7,443 Latinos.

In Los Angeles, Martin Luther King Community Hospital CEO Elaine Batchlor said the disparity among races isn't entirely unexpected.

PHOTO: People register at a walkin COVID-19 test site in Los Angeles, Jan. 25, 2021.
People register at a walkin COVID-19 test site in Los Angeles, Jan. 25, 2021.
Damian Dovarganes/AP

"These conditions exist all the time, but we're seeing it more visible during the COVID pandemic because the pandemic is moving so fast," Batchlor explained. "The low-income population are almost all publicly insured or uninsured. ... So that leaves this population without access to health care, and then it leaves them vulnerable to a pandemic like this."

COVID-19 warning signs have been posted in some of LA's highest-risk neighborhoods, many of them with large Latino populations.

Still, according to California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state may be turning a corner.

"California is slowly starting to emerge from the most dangerous surge of this pandemic yet, which is the light at the end of the tunnel we've been hoping for," Ghaly said. "Seven weeks ago, our hospitals and front-line medical workers were stretched to their limits, but Californians heard the urgent message to stay home when possible, and our surge after the December holidays did not overwhelm the health care system to the degree we had feared."

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