People of Color, Others Bear Brunt of COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations, and Deaths
Despite overall low transmission rates of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, local data highlights the ongoing disproportionate impact of the disease, particularly in communities with higher poverty levels and among people of color. This disparity underscores the urgent need for targeted prevention and mitigation strategies that can address these gaps and protect vulnerable populations.
The higher COVID-19 rates, hospitalizations, and deaths in neighborhoods with greater poverty and among Black and Brown residents can be attributed to several factors. These include increased exposure to the virus, limited access to resources necessary for good health, overcrowded and poorly ventilated homes and workplaces, and disparities in health status. In areas where more than 30% of households live at or below the federal poverty line,
COVID-19 hospitalization rates are nearly two-and-a-half times higher than neighborhoods with less poverty. Similarly, death rates in these areas are nearly three times higher. Furthermore, cumulative hospitalization rates among Black and Latinx residents in Los Angeles County are twice as high as those among white residents. Latinx residents also experience death rates nearly two-and-a-half times higher, while Black residents face rates one-and-a-half times higher. To mitigate the adverse health outcomes associated with COVID-19, it is crucial for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and community partners to focus on preparedness and mitigation efforts that ensure equitable access to life-saving tools and improve conditions in workplaces, schools, and residential environments.
Residents are encouraged to utilize available COVID-19 resources, including vaccinations, testing, and treatment. However, equal attention must be given to community-level infection control measures, outbreak reporting compliance, and modifications to work and learning environments to minimize the spread and impact of not only COVID-19 but also other respiratory viruses.
Enhancing indoor air circulation can significantly reduce disease transmission. Worksite managers, school administrators, and those responsible for residential buildings are advised to aim for a ventilation system that achieves a total air changeover of at least five times per hour. Additionally, using filters with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) of 13, as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is crucial. Detailed guidance and resources on ventilation can be found on the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s website at ph.lacounty.gov/COVIDbusiness.
Simple actions such as opening windows, using fans, and adjusting home heating, ventilation, and air conditioning settings to prevent air recirculation can also improve ventilation.
As part of ongoing efforts to reduce the risks associated with infectious diseases, including COVID-19 transmission in the community, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health mandates businesses and facilities to report clusters of COVID-19 cases. This proactive reporting is an important alert, enabling early and effective intervention by Public Health outbreak investigators to mitigate further transmission.
Workplaces, educational settings, and residential congregate facilities such as shelters and correctional institutions must report all clusters of at least three linked cases occurring within 14 days to Public Health. For facilities with over 100 workers or residents, reporting is required if 5% of individuals test positive, even if the cases are unlinked. Reporting should be done within 24 hours of reaching Public Health’s reporting threshold. Case clusters can be reported by phone at 1-888-397-3993 or online at redcap.link/covidreport.