L.A. mayor tells men to ‘mask up,’ citing higher COVID-19 death rate among male Angelenos

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Men outside of congregate living facilities make up about two-thirds of Los Angeles County’s coronavirus-related deaths, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday, encouraging men to adhere to public health guidance.

Overall, men account for 57% of the county’s coronavirus fatalities. But considering over half the county’s deaths occurred in living facilities like jails, nursing homes and shelters, the death rate is even higher for men living outside of such settings, Garcetti said in an evening briefing.

“In the general public at large outside of those institutions, two-thirds of the deaths are men, and one-third are women,” he said. “So men: Mask up. Men, take responsibility and socially distance. And, men, make sure you are washing your hands and your surfaces.”

After data earlier in the pandemic showed men were more likely to become seriously ill and die from COVID-19, some experts suggested it was due to men being more likely to have habits that lead to comorbidity — such as smoking, heavy drinking and eating red meat.

The mayor’s address comes after the county notched yet another record Wednesday for both the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths reported in a single day — although this time the high tallies were largely the result of a delay in state reporting data.

Some 2,000 of Wednesday’s 4,825 new infections were part of the backlog, according to public health officials. More than 183,000 cases have been confirmed since March.

The county also confirmed 91 more virus-related fatalities Wednesday, raising its death toll to 4,516.

Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the county’s hospitalization rate has stabilized, following a spike in mid-June that saw more than 2,000 people hospitalized each day.

However, Ferrer cautioned that the number of hospitalizations remains high, and as of Wednesday, a total of 2,045 people were being treated for the illness at county hospitals.

“Whether this is a trend that we’ll be able to sustain over the coming days and weeks remains to be seen,” she said.

Garcetti also touted a metric heading in the right direction Wednesday: the county’s transmission rate, or the average number of people a COVID-19 patient passes the virus on to.

The figure remains below one, at 0.92 — a slight improvement from last Friday’s 0.94. Any number below one indicates each infectious person spreads the virus to fewer to one person.

The number of people estimated to be currently infectious in the county has also dropped, from one in 320 residents last week to one out of every 450 residents this week.

“This is positive news,” Garcetti said. “It shows our actions work. And over the next few weeks I hope you’ll keep up what we’ve done over the last few weeks.”

The mayor said no plans are in the works to close additional businesses or other public spaces.  

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