The Director of Public Health Shared COVID-19 Updates
By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
The Westside Regional Alliance of Councils hosted an informational town hall with Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Dr. Barbara Ferrer to cover COVID-19 updates on August 19.
WRAC is a cooperative regional coalition made up of 14 neighborhood and community councils on the Westside of Los Angeles that meets once per month to discuss issues that impact communities.
Ferrer reported that LA County is currently trending down, which she reported as “very good news” overall. This is a cumulative trend over the timespan of the pandemic.
“We have the most cases in California of any other state,” Ferrer explained. “We don’t have the most deaths.”
Ferrer explained that the state as a whole has done a “fairly decent job” of driving down death rates.
“We haven’t seen the explosion of deaths that there have been in places like New York, New York City and New Jersey,” she added.
Ferrer attributed this primarily to an attentiveness early on. She reported that the most deaths throughout Los Angeles have been in nursing homes.
“In LA County, we crossed a grim milestone a few days ago—more than 5,000 deaths,” Ferrer said, “a devastating number to those who have lost loved ones to the pandemic.”
Ferrer explained that COVID-19 is the second leading cause of death in LA County and could, by the end of the year, be the leading cause.
LA County is currently administering more than 35,000 tests each day, according to Ferrer. The state monitors the rate of cases, which is an important marker for opening up facilities, along with a positivity marker for how much community transmission is going on.
“We have 230 cases per every 100,000 individuals,” Ferrer shared at the time.
This is an important indicator because that rate has to be at or below 200 cases per 100,000 residents over the course of 14 days to allow schools to be considered for a waiver for conducting in-class instruction.
There are no recorded deaths of children up to 17 years old in LA County, but Ferrer warned that there are in the country.
“The data is clear that children do get infected,” Ferrer said, adding that some do end up in the hospital. There’s also increasing evidence that children spread COVID-19.
“As the daughter of aging parents, as well as mother of three (and co-Chair of Paul Revere Charter Middle School’s parent board, where the specter of returning to school is in sharp focus), I was also interested to learn that the infection rates are now higher among young people ages 18 to 49 than older people,” WRAC Chair and Palisadian Maryam Zar shared with the Post. “While younger people tend to experience a milder version of COVID-19, they are undoubtedly ‘spreaders’ nonetheless, and although older people are less likely to spread the virus, they are more likely to die from it. That struck me as a call to responsibility for all age groups to take COVID-19 seriously and guard against its transmission in order to protect the most vulnerable among us.”
Ferrer shared that at the time of the meeting, between ages 18 and 29 there were 52,811 cases, and from age 30 to 49, there were 73,739 cases, compared to older citizens between 65 and 79 having 16,457 cases. But the death rate for older citizens is much higher.
There were 7,841 cases for those over 80 years old with 2,212 deaths, compared to 36 deaths for those infected between 18 and 29 years old. Over 75% of the deaths have been people over age 75, Ferrer said.
“What was most striking to me was learning—statistically and anecdotally—about the disparity between infection rates among the various demographics across LA County,” Zar said. “Underserved and less affluent areas are experiencing higher infection rates and worse outcomes than wealthier pockets of the county, where presumably people live in wider quarters and have access to better health care … ”
Zar explained that the gap is narrowing as the spread of coronavirus slows and proper protocols are increasingly observed.
“Still, the disparity, presented with the visual aid of graphs and timelines, was stark to see and hard to ignore,” Zar said.
As the Post went to print Tuesday, positive cases of COVID-19 had reached 221,331 in LA County when not factoring in Pasadena or Long Beach, with 5,291 deaths.
In Pacific Palisades, there have been 111 cases, with an additional 21 in Palisades Highlands.
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