Los Angeles County continues to see decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations as death toll nears 5,000

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Los Angeles County continues to see a decline in the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations since last month but health officials continue to report dozens of more deaths daily.

While it holds just a quarter of the state’s population, the county reported nearly 49% of all fatalities confirmed in California Saturday, according to county and state data. The death toll stood at 4,967 as officials confirmed another 51 fatalities and 2,645 new cases of the virus.

Currently, 1,610 people are being hospitalized for COVID-19, marking a considerable decrease from the all-time high of more than 2,200 hospitalizations the county saw last month. Officials said 31% of hospitalized patients are being treated in the ICU.

With 206,761 cases since the start of the pandemic, L.A. County currently has around 38% of the 545,787 infections reported in California, according to health officials. But officials have warned some figures are skewed by issues with the state’s electronic reporting system.

The California Department of Public Health said in a tweet Saturday that current data “represent an underreporting of actual positive cases in one single day.”

However, the number of the hospitalizations and deaths have not been affected, L.A. County health officials said.

The county health department said the state will send a backlog of lab reports in the coming days.

Mortality rates remain highest among communities with the largest rates of poverty, a problem local officials have tried to address by establishing testing centers in higher risk neighborhoods like Boyle Heights.

Racial disparities also continue to be seen in mortality rates countywide.

While the current overall mortality rate is 45 deaths for every 100,000 residents, Latinos have a much higher mortality rate of 68 deaths for every 100,000. For Black residents, the rate is 54 fatalities per 100,000 residents while it’s 35 for Asian residents and 26 for white residents.

Last month, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Latino residents are more than twice as likely to contract the virus. Gov. Gavin Newsom and other public officials have attributed higher infection and mortality rates among Latinos, in part, to the fact that they make up the majority of the workforce in some essential jobs.

Federal officials have stressed that the greater impact of the virus on some groups is not driven by genetics but rather social conditions such as work and housing, according to the Associated Press.

“To just name racial and ethnic groups without contextualizing what contributes to the risk has the potential to be stigmatizing and victimizing,” Leandris Liburd, the chief health equity officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s coronavirus response, told AP.

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