Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials noted the extreme disparities of COVID-19 cases and deaths within the county’s affluent and impoverished areas Thursday, before urging members of the public to continue making efforts to ensure the safety of others.
The discussion, which featured remarks from Los Angeles County Health Officer Muntu Davis and Community Liaison Public Health Nurse Evelyn Gonzalez, occurred Thursday afternoon during a media briefing and covered a variety of statistics related to the pandemic, but Davis said DPH has focused its efforts on the contrasting numbers because it’s important for the public to know different groups in the community are faring as it relates to Covid-19.
“As you’ve seen since early on in the pandemic, every area, every age group and every income level has had COVID-19 infections,” but Black and Brown people, as well as others in low-income communities, are bearing the brunt of the virus in terms of infections and deaths, Davis said.
“In order to effectively slow the spread as a society… we collectively need to take action to prevent and bring down the rates of illness and death among residents of our county who are at higher risk of getting Covid-19 and who are experiencing poorer outcomes. That includes residents who are working low wage jobs and who have limited control over their work conditions. It also means focusing in on those who face housing or food insecurity and unemployment as a result of the pandemic,” Davis added as he started rattling off statistics depicting the plight of Los Angeles County’s poorer communities.
“Latinx residents, unfortunately, saw a sharp increase in the daily case rate of Covid-19 in their community beginning in early July,” and by mid-July, the case rate of Latinx residents was more than 4 times the rate of White and Asian people, according to Davis. “Unfortunately, they’re also seeing higher death rates,” he said, mentioning those who reside in the county’s poorer areas have a COVID death rate that is at least four times that of those who are in wealthier locations.
This is largely due to a gap in resources though, Davis added, stating governments should focus on instituting universal sick-leave benefits and protections for workers who are forced out of work due to the pandemic or sickness from COVID.
“One of the reasons we’re seeing health disparities is simply due to the makeup of our essential workers,” Davis said. “Office workers are more likely to be able to work from home,” while essential food, manufacturing, retail and delivery workers must report to the worksite to ensure everybody else can continue receiving the food and health care supplies that are necessary to live.
That’s why it’s critical that businesses follow the health office’s orders and protocols in place, Davis said. “It helps protects the workers, business and clients they serve.”