The Public Policy Institute of California has released new data that shows significant reductions in the large racial disparities in Covid-related deaths among Latinos during the pandemic.
According to the California Department of Public Health, in January 2021 the monthly death rate of Latinos aged 18 and over in California was 55 per 100,000. This is the highest of any racial or ethnic group. During the same time, the death rate for white Californians was 38 per 100,000.
This month, Covid-related deaths had decreased significantly overall, and the rate for Latinos was now at 1 per 100,000. This is lower than that of white Californians who have a death rate of 2.5 per 100,000.
According to the California Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the latest vaccination rate is 62.1% for Hispanics aged 18-49 years. The rates for Latinos over 50 are in the 70% category.
Shannon McConville, a policy institute research fellow who wrote the analysis, stated that if California had launched its vaccination campaign, there would have been an "exacerbation" of disparities. She said that equity gaps have narrowed partly because of efforts to put equity at the heart of the vaccination campaign.
She stated that California tried to prevent access to vaccines or make equity a part of the vaccine rollout.
The California Department of Health published a "health equity plan" for all counties in December 2020. The document, which was 73 pages long, acknowledged the impact of structural racism on access to employment, housing, and "quality care". It also highlighted the underrepresentation in the essential workforce of low-income communities, who have less access paid leave and other forms to prevent viruses.
This strategy highlighted examples of equity-focused mitigation strategies across the state. Northern California's Sonoma County was one of those examples. It created a group with community-based providers to improve Covid, vaccine-related case management and response among Latinos. Kings County in central California set aside federal Covid money for hotel rooms to allow essential workers to be isolated during the pandemic.
According to a February Journal of General Internal Medicine study, the equity gap in Covid-related death between white and Latino Californians began to close in July 2021. Researchers from several California universities contributed to the study. They cited a variety of factors as the reason for the decline, including previous infection and immunity.
California's decline is in line with national trends. The Covid-related death rate among Hispanics was 0.14 per 100,000 as of May 21. This is the most recent available CDC data. It does not have a six-week delay. Whites had 0.33.
McConville stated that she believes it is important to "continue focusing on access and understanding how to get people vaccinated."
She stated that it was important to keep the equity lens in view as people are boosted and the virus evolves.