By Alberto Garcia
The total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US surpassed three million this week as the rates of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to rise in several states, including in California.
California set new records of confirmed cases per day on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and Los Angeles County reported a new record number of cases on Tuesday.
As of Wednesday, California has reported 296,499 confirmed cases and 6,711 deaths since the first reported case in early March. A total of 5,078,434 tests have been conducted in the state, or about 12.5% of the state’s residents.
San Diego County has reported 17,842 total confirmed cases and 406 deaths, and a total of 1,961 people that required hospitalization.
The highest number of cases in San Diego County have been among Latinos with 62.9% of all cases affecting Latinos. When adjusted for population, Latinos have borne a disproportionate number of the cases.
When compared on a population basis in San Diego, Latinos are three times more likely to have been infected than whites. Latinos have experienced 775.2 cases per 100,000 residents, compared to 225.8 per 100,000 among whites. Blacks in San Diego experienced a 434.6 per 100,000 infection rate, and Asians at 232.6 per 100,000.
Health experts attribute the high impact on Latinos for three primary reasons: many Latinos work in essential jobs that were not suspended during the crisis, including food-processing plants, farms, hospital support staff, food preparers in restaurants, grocery workers; many Latinos live in multi-generational homes with several family members; and many Latinos have higher levels of underlying health issues because of a lack of adequate access to health care services.
As most of the population sheltered at home during the past three months, many latinos continued working.
“Sheltering is a luxury,” said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, the vice dean for population health and health equity at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. “In wealthier parts of town, people sheltered earlier and longer, because it takes resources. Not every community has the luxury to do that,” she added. In San Francisco, Latinos are 15% of the population yet make up nearly half of all COVID cases.
Nationally, Latinos make up 34% of all COVID-19 cases yet are only 18% of the national population. In states including California, Arizona, and Texas, Latinos have been hit hard by the pandemic, resulting in high unemployment and hospitalizations. In California, Latinos are 39% of the population but 57% of new cases have been among latinos.
But other states have also seen a high level of cases among Latinos. In Virginia, for example, where Latinos only make up 10% of the population, over 46% of their COVID cases are have been among Latinos. In Wisconsin, where Latinos make up only 7% of the population, 44% of the cases affected Latinos.
As cases went back up during the past two weeks, California GovernoR Gavin Newsom last Friday announced new restrictions that reclosed indoor seating for restaurants, closed all bars, and again restricts most indoor retail and services locations.