L.A. County Confirms A Disproportionate Share Of Coronavirus Deaths In California

L.A. County Confirms A Disproportionate Share Of Coronavirus Deaths In California

Los Angeles County has confirmed a disproportionate share of coronavirus deaths in the state of California, according to new reports. LA resident Larnell Brown, 66, wears gloves and a mask as he steps out of his vehicle outside the Crenshaw Christian Center before it opens as a testing site for COVID-19 in South Los Angeles, March 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

Coronavirus deaths have gone up again in Los Angeles County, prompting an amendment of isolation rules for those infected with the virus. 

New evidence suggests that the virus may shed for a longer period than previously thought, which means that a person may be able to infect other people for a longer period than was initially thought, county health director Barbara Ferrer told NBC Los Angeles.       

On May 1, dozens more COVID-19 deaths were confirmed and health officials warned that people with the virus can spread it longer than experts originally thought.

On that same day, COVID-19 death toll in L.A. rose to 1,174. Ferrer announced 54 new cases, along with eight more that were reported a day earlier by the Pasadena municipal health agency. 

Three days later, Los Angeles County has reported 25,677 cases and 1,229 deaths as of this writing. Statewide, California has reported 54,923 cases and 2,215 deaths.

Los Angeles County (population: 10.04 million in 2019, according to the U.S. Census) accounts for about half of the coronavirus cases and deaths in California (population: 39.51 million).

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The previous guidance called for seven days of isolation, plus 72 symptom-free hours, NBC Los Angeles reported. That has been changed. Ferrer said people who test positive for the virus or are believed to be positive must now isolate themselves for 10 days, plus an additional 72 hours after symptoms dissipate.

“If you now test positive for COVID-19 or you’ve been told by your provider that you’re likely to be positive for the virus, you need to immediately self-isolate,” Ferrer said. “And this means staying home and staying away from all other people and pets as much as possible all of the time. Please do not prepare or serve meals for your family, and please don’t share utensils, cups or food with others. If you’re a caregiver it would be important for you to find someone else in your family to perform daily activities that have you in close contact with others.”

On April 27, Los Angeles County surpassed 20,000 coronavirus cases, including 2,000 healthcare workers. In fact, 45 percent of the county’s 942 deaths were among institutional settings, mostly nursing homes. Eleven health care workers have died.

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“Early on in this pandemic we were all unaware that COVID-19 could be spread by people who did not have symptoms,” Ferrer said. “This has spread the virus. I apologize on behalf of all of us for not knowing enough at the start of this epidemic.”

Ferrer also addressed the racial and economic disparities showing that African Americans have an especially high mortality rate –13.2 per 100,000 people — compared to other races and ethnicity. Whites have a mortality rate of 5.7 per 100,000 (including both infected and general population), Los Angeles Daily News reported

“This data is deeply disturbing and speaks to the need for immediate action in communities with disproportionately high rates of death,” said Ferrer, adding that her department would increase access to testing, healthcare services, and more accurate culturally appropriate information.