• Christine Guinessey

COVID-19 in Los Angeles and Southern California

Southern California has been one of the hardest hit areas in the country by COVID-19. Los Angeles County has had the most cumulative cases in the state of California since the start of the pandemic, followed by Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, and San Diego counties.


Just in the last two weeks, there have been 562 deaths in Los Angeles County and over 1,200 deaths in all of Southern California. Since the pandemic began, there have been 5,560 deaths in LA County, 897 deaths in Orange County, and 972 deaths in Riverside county. The number of deaths for Southern California since March is currently 9,505 as compared to the state's 12,261 total deaths. The hardest hit areas are East Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Anaheim, Riverside, Moreno Valley, San Bernardino, Fontana, and San Diego, with more than 5,000 cases each, and as many as 10,000.


California currently leads the nation in cases (Louisiana is first when adjusted for population). Testing is increasing with an average of 102,672 test per day. Positive tests are decreasing, now only 5.6% of tests come back positive, as compared to previous highs of more than 8%.


There are disparities in cases and deaths for both age and race. The age range of 18 to 34- year-olds make up the largest proportion of cases, more than 35%, but only about 2.5% of deaths. The age range of 80+ makes up less than 5% of cases, but more than 40% of deaths. Latinos and Black people are more likely to contract the virus than white and Asian people. Latinos are 3.3 times more likely to test positive than white people, while Black people are 1.6 times more likely. Deaths in the Black community make up 8% of total deaths, while they only make up 6% of the population. Latinos make up 47.5% of deaths and only 38.9% of the population.


In Los Angeles, officials launched Project Roomkey, to house the homeless population in hotels and motels to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. So far, 4,320 people have been housed out of the estimated 60,000 homeless people in Los Angeles. The 15,000 most vulnerable members of the homeless population are being prioritized in this project (the elderly and those with medical conditions). Approximately 1,498 homeless people have tested positive for coronavirus in LA.

California reached Stage 3 of reopening on June 12, and cases in Southern California rose exponentially after reopening. In Stage 3, higher risk businesses such as movie theaters and gyms opened. All of the counties in Southern California have reverted to Stage 2, now only essential retail and parks are allowed to stay open.


Southern California’s economy has been severely impacted by the pandemic and is not expected to recover until December 2021. Retail sales are expected to decrease by $264 billion over the next two years, which will limit the budgets of local governments because of the loss in sales tax. Restaurant profits are expected to be down 53 to 65% over the next two years. The unemployment rate in the six counties is expected to reach 19.3% this year, and only improve to 12.2% in 2021. About 1.3 million jobs have been lost in Los Angeles County since the start of the pandemic. There has been a 15 percent loss in jobs, with the number being even higher for Black people and Latinos, at 21% and 18% respectively.


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