L.A. County Community Health Worker Initiative Targets Communities Hardest Hit by COVID-19

Public Health Reports 5 New Deaths and 1,431 New Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) has confirmed 5 new deaths and 1,431 new cases of COVID-19. The number of new cases and deaths reflects a reporting lag over the weekend.

L.A. County is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 transmission. From mid-September to late-October, new reported cases went from a little over 750 cases per day to almost 1,400 cases per day.  Over the weekend, Public Health reported for Saturday and Sunday, a total of 4,656 cases; 2,418 new cases for Saturday and 2,238 new cases for Sunday.  These numbers are demonstrating real and alarming increases.

Public Health reminds everyone who participated in a gathering, especially one where there were crowds and where people were not distancing and wearing a face covering, that it is important to take very seriously that you may have been exposed to COVID-19. Please quarantine for 14 days and, in particular, stay away from anyone who is at increased risk for serious illness from the virus.  This includes elderly family members and friends with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Public Health also encourages people who participated in such gatherings to get tested for COVID-19.  There continues to be plenty of testing capacity across our county, and anyone can make an appointment to be tested at www.covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.

To date, Public Health identified 323,625 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 7,177 deaths. Upon further investigation, 13 cases reported earlier were not L.A. County residents.

As we have seen increases in cases over the last few weeks, certain communities are experiencing the burden of transmission of the virus more than others. Overall, in Los Angeles County, the current adjusted case rate over the last two weeks is 188 cases per 100,000 people. During the same time period, in Pacoima, the adjusted case rate is 506 cases per 100,000 people, in Sun Valley, the adjusted case rate is 456 cases per 100,000 people and in Palmdale, the adjusted case rate is 406 cases per 100,000 people.

The County is re-aligning resources to communities experiencing significant surges including targeted compliance and support for cases and close contacts. Our Community Health Worker Outreach Initiative will coordinate and mobilize community health workers, also called Promotoras, in highly impacted communities to conduct healing-informed grassroots community outreach.  Community health workers will provide accurate and up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 and connect residents with needed critical services, including health insurance, testing, mental health services and other safety net services such as food pantries and housing assistance.  They will share current public health directives and inform residents about safety requirements at sectors that are open and requirements for worker safety.

“Promotoras are trusted community members who share the ethnicity, language, and life experiences of the families they serve,” said Los Angeles Chair Pro Tem Hilda L. Solis. “Their work is vital to address long-standing health inequities and inform those severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic of the critical services and programs the County of Los Angeles offers. I am pleased that the County of Los Angeles, at my direction, is dedicating $30 million to the promotoras program in light of COVID-19 and to see many organizations, with long standing ties to the First District, serving as the bridge between care and local residents in a culturally appropriate manner. They will focus their efforts on areas that have significant disparities exemplified by the current health crisis, including East Los Angeles. In addition to serving the community, this program will offer new workforce pathways for the promotoras to continue their incredible service.”

One important role that community health workers will play is helping residents understand the importance of participating in contact tracing and dispelling myths and rumors about COVID-19. Currently, there are 46 Community Health Workers and 14 supervisors assigned to support these field efforts, and an additional 170 Public Health staff participated in a training for this work last week. We are in the process of contracting with community-based organizations to train and mobilize hundreds of additional community health workers to engage with community residents through December and are grateful to our community partners and community health workers for taking on this critically important work.

“Our hearts go out to everyone who has lost a friend or loved one who has passed away from COVID-19.  We are thinking of you every day,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “We are once again at a pivotal point in our recovery journey.  There is no real path forward until we get back to slowing the spread.  We don’t have the luxury of ignoring our individual and collective responsibilities if we want to see more children go to school and businesses remain open.  Recovery doesn’t continue when you have thousands of new cases each day, and many of these new cases stem from people taking risks that are frankly not appropriate.  It isn’t that hard to play by the rules, especially since these rules are what keeps some people alive and allows our economy to improve.”

There continues to be a steady decline in COVID-19 deaths associated with skilled nursing facilities. Skilled nursing facility COVID-19 associated deaths peaked in the beginning of May with 190 deaths a week. Last week, deaths in skilled nursing facilities dropped to 16 deaths a week.  These facilities did not experience a surge in COVID-19 deaths in July and August as Los Angeles County did overall.  A significant reason for the improvement in our skilled nursing facility outcomes is the continued efforts at nursing homes to protect workers and residents through enhanced infection control, using appropriate PPE, and diligence in appropriate testing.

All 340 skilled nursing facilities in the County conduct weekly testing of residents and staff. For the week of October 24, nearly 46,000 COVID-19 tests were completed among staff and residents. One hundred and sixty-three people tested positive for COVID-19; there were 77 new cases among residents and 86 new cases among staff.  As of October 24, 233 facilities reported no positive cases.  For comparison, in early September, nearly half of all skilled nursing facilities had an outbreak. Nearly all skilled nursing facilities report having adequate staffing (99%) and having adequate PPE (95%).

Public Health also continues tracking the number of positive cases and deaths among healthcare workers related to the COVID-19 pandemic response. There have been a total of 17,647 positive cases among healthcare workers and first responders in Los Angeles County. Seventy percent of healthcare workers who tested positive are younger than 50 years old. Slightly over half of the cases are among Latino/Latinx healthcare workers, and 68% of cases are among women.  There have been a total 107 deaths among healthcare workers.  Over half of these deaths occurred among men which is an overrepresentation of deaths, since the majority of cases are among women.  Three-quarters of deaths are among healthcare workers who are age 50 and older, and 45% are among Latino/Latinx healthcare workers. The vast majority, 83%, of healthcare workers who passed away had underlying health conditions. Nurses continue to account for the majority of deaths among healthcare workers at 36%.

Of the five new deaths reported today, one person that passed away was over the age of 80 years old, two people who died were between the ages of 65 and 79 years old, and two people who died were between the ages of 50 and 64 years old. Four people who died had underlying health conditions including two people between the ages of 65 and 79 years old, and two people between the ages of 50 and 64 years old.

Ninety-three percent of the people who died from COVID-19 had underlying health conditions. Of those who died, information about race and ethnicity is available for 6,767 people (99 percent of the cases reported by Public Health); 52% of deaths occurred among Latino/Latinx residents, 23% among White residents, 14% among Asian residents, 10% among African American/Black residents, less than 1% among Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander residents and 1% among residents identifying with other races.

Testing results are available for nearly 3,270,000 individuals with 9% of all people testing positive.  There are 855 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 29% of these people are in the ICU.

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