Hypertension and Diabetes are Most Common Underlying Health Conditions in COVID-19 Deaths; Vaccination Eligibility Expands to Residents 16 and Over | Public Health

People who live with chronic illnesses suffer the worst outcomes of COVID-19 infection


The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) has confirmed 57 new deaths and 411 new cases of COVID-19. Wednesday, Public Health identified 1,226,964 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 23,553 deaths.

There are 493 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 26% of these people are in the ICU. Older residents have been hospitalized at higher rates than younger residents at all stages of the pandemic, with the highest rates among residents above 80 years of age. With the decrease of hospitalization rates for people of all ages, and the large number of older people who are now vaccinated, the rate of hospitalizations for those over 80 years old has dropped by 96%.

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From August 2020 through January 2021, 87% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 had at least one underlying health condition, or comorbidity. The most common comorbidity was cardiovascular disease, which includes high blood pressure, and was noted for 66% of the people hospitalized for COVID-19. Forty-two percent of hospitalized people had diabetes, and 36% had obesity.

Underlying conditions are strongly associated with deaths due to COVID-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 85% of people who died as a result of COVID-19 infection had an underlying condition. The most common condition was high blood pressure or hypertension, which was an underlying condition for 52% of those who died. Forty-one percent of those who died had diabetes, 26% had cardiovascular disease other than hypertension, 21% had neurologic disease, and 16% had chronic renal disease.

People who live with chronic illnesses suffer the worst outcomes of COVID-19 infection. These numbers should remind us of the importance of ensuring equitable access to preventive healthcare and the other resources that reduce people’s vulnerability to this virus. If you have serious underlying health conditions, talk with your healthcare provider if you have concerns about getting vaccinated. Because chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity so dramatically increase the risk of getting severely ill or dying with COVID-19 infection, vaccination is particularly important for people living with these conditions.

Of the 57 new deaths reported Wednesday, 26 people that passed away were over the age of 80, 16 people who died were between the ages of 65 and 79, 10 people who died were between the ages of 50 and 64, and three people who died were between the ages of 30 and 49. Two deaths were reported by the City of Long Beach.

Testing results are available for more than 6,235,000 individuals with 18% of people testing positive. Wednesday’s daily test positivity rate is 1.2%.

Later Wednesday, Public Health will release several protocols to help the people of Los Angeles begin to enjoy additional opportunities for shared activities. These include guidance on reopening indoor seated live events and performances; guidance on safety modifications required for private events, meetings, and conferences; and relaxed rules for informal gatherings. The protocols provide guidance on distancing, masking, infection control, and capacity requirements needed to minimize risk while gathering or attending events with those not members of our household.

“To everyone who has lost a loved one to COVID-19, we are deeply sorry for your loss, and we wish you peace and comfort in this difficult time,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “We all must continue to take actions that reduce transmission, as there are still many people who may not yet be vaccinated who may become very seriously ill if they become infected with COVID-19. As we start to reopen and attend live events and gatherings that form such a big part of this county’s cultural fabric, please be aware of the steps you can take to be safe at large group gatherings: wearing a mask securely and fully covering your mouth and nose helps protect you and others, and wearing two masks is even better than one. If you see people not wearing masks, keep your distance from them as best you can. Avoid crowded areas at concession stands or in concourses; come back when lines are short. Eat in areas where you can be sure to keep your distance from others. To the best of your ability, cheer, sing, and chant in your normal voice. And as always, wash or sanitize your hands, especially before eating or drinking. As more and more L.A. County residents are vaccinated, we are heading in the right direction.”

Public Health continues to identify variant cases in Los Angeles County. The two most commonly circulating variants of concern in L.A. County have been the UK (B.1.1.7) and California (B.1.427/429) variants. Of the 40 specimens analyzed by the L.A. County Public Health Laboratory in the past week, 55% were the UK variant and 28% were the California variant. The Public Health Laboratory also detected the three Brazil (P.1) variants last week. Although these are the first confirmed Brazil variant cases in LA County, it is likely there are other undetected cases of this variant circulating in our region.

Since January 2021, when healthcare workers began to be vaccinated, their cases declined sharply. During the last week of December, there were over 1,900 new cases of COVID-19 among healthcare workers. In the past three weeks, there have been 50 or fewer new cases across the entire county each week. These are the lowest numbers of weekly cases among healthcare workers that seen in this pandemic.

Tragically, 256 healthcare workers have passed away from COVID-19, and we mourn the loss of these heroes. At the peak of the surge, the week of January 3, 2021, 24 healthcare workers passed away. In the past month, six healthcare workers have died from COVID-19. We are pleased to see these numbers decreasing, although even one death due to COVID-19 is too many.

Starting Thursday, April 15, vaccine eligibility is expanding to anyone living or working in L.A. County 16 and older. To date, about 1.5 million residents between 16 and 49 have received at least one dose of the vaccine, which means 3.5 million residents in this group still need to be vaccinate.

To learn how to make an appointment, what verifications you will need to show at your vaccination appointment, to sign up for a vaccination newsletter, and much more, visit: www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English) and www.VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish). Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.

More than 5,000,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to people across Los Angeles County. Already, almost 2,000,000 people have been fully vaccinated.

Throughout the pandemic, Black/African American residents and Latino/Latinx residents have seen disproportionately high numbers of COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations. In vaccinating county residents, the County made it a priority to ensure that people who are living in hard-hit communities have access to the vaccine. Public Health watched closely the rates of vaccination across race and ethnicity groups, and while gaps still persist, they are closing.

Among people who are 65 and older, a group that has been eligible to be vaccinated for several months, 72% have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Among those where race/ethnicity information is known, Asian and White seniors have the highest rate of vaccination, each at 64% as of April 9. American Indian/Alaska Native residents in this age group have a vaccination rate of 60%. Latinx seniors have a vaccination rate of 57%, and Black residents 65 and older have a vaccination rate of 51%.

Black residents have seen the highest increase in vaccinations at 31%. Latinx residents have seen a 26% increase in vaccinations, and American Indian and Alaska Native residents have seen a 24% increase in vaccinations. We are relieved to see the groups with the lowest vaccination rates seeing the largest increases in vaccination since March.

Here in LA County, we are continuing to get vaccines into the arms of people that most need the vaccine, and as vaccination eligibility opens up to everyone who is age 16 and older, we will remain focused on this work to ensure distribution of the vaccine is equitable.

County Reopening Protocols, COVID-19 Surveillance Interactive Dashboard, Roadmap to Recovery, Recovery Dashboard, and additional actions you can take to protect yourself, your family and your community are on the Public Health website, www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.