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LA County Working To Address Racial Disparities In COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles Department of Public Health Monday said it was working to address racial disparities in COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

COVID-19 vaccination center at Cal Poly Pomona
Pomona, CA - February 05: Katharyne Acuna, left, administers first dose of Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to Elton Jackson at vaccination center established at Cal Poly Pomona. A health care consortium of Kaiser Permanente, Adventist Health, the California Medical Association, CommonSpirit, Dignity Health and Futuro Health opened a mass COVID_19 vaccination site at Cal Poly on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021 in Pomona, CA.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

According to Public Health, about 25% of all vaccine doses were administered to white residents, 25% to Latinx residents, 18% to Asian residents and 17% to residents who identify as multi-racial.

"Shockingly, Black residents have received only 3.5% of all administered doses, highlighting a glaring inadequacy in the vaccine rollout to date," Dr. Barbara Ferrer, county public health director, said.

For residents aged 65 and older, the county said 20% have received at least one dose of the vaccine. However, Public Health said only 9.3% of those vaccines were provided to American Indian/Native Alaskan residents, 7.2% to Black residents and 14.3% to Latinx residents compared to 17% to white residents, 18.2% to Asian residents and 29.4% to Pacific Islander residents.

In order to address the disparity, Public Health said it was increasing its public outreach in hard-hit communities and has opened up 10 additional vaccination sites in East L.A. and South L.A., bringing the total number of vaccination sites in those two communities to 49.

"The department is organizing mobile teams to bring vaccinations directly to seniors living in housing developments or accessing senior centers in our hardest-hit communities," the department said. "Community health workers in the highly impacted communities will also go block by block to provide information to residents about how to get vaccinated while dispelling myths and misinformation about the vaccine."

Dr. Jerry Abraham, who helps run the vaccination clinic at Kedren Community Health Clinic in South Los Angeles, said he sees the disparity, which is why his hospital is not waiting for the county to fix the problem.

"We've reduced every barrier," he said. "So they're not having to fight with the website. They don't have to get an appointment. They don't have to have a car and drive, and that's why we're so effective at making sure the population that comes in to Kedren to get vaccinated reflects the community that we serve."

Also on Monday, the county reported 2,741 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and 93 more deaths, bringing countywide totals to 1,149,064 cases and 18,135 deaths.

Of the deaths reported, 41 people who died were over the age of 80, 22 people were between the ages of 65 and 79, 21 people were between the ages of 50 and 64 and six people were between the ages of 30 and 49. Three deaths were reported by the city of Pasadena. Health officials said the lower number of deaths might reflect reporting delays from over the weekend.

Since Feb. 2, the county has recorded more than 1,000 new COVID-19 deaths, but health officials said the average number of daily cases and current hospitalizations were continuing to decrease from peaks seen in early January.

There were 4,186 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, 29% of whom were being treated in intensive care units. As of Feb. 5, there were 4,608 average daily hospitalizations, a decrease of 45% from the peak of 8,065 average daily hospitalizations in early-January.

The seven-day average number of daily cases has decreased by 77% since the peak of more than 15,000 on Jan. 8.

With testing results available for more than 5,612,000 individuals, the county's overall positivity rate was holding steady at 19% of people testing positive, though the daily positivity rate had fallen to 7.1%.

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