by Hannah Gethun. CalMaters
It’s been more than a year and a half since COVID-19 first arrived in California, and the demographics of those who have died from the virus are changing.
So far, 67,358 people have died in California during the pandemic, more than any other state. In recent months, the average age of those who died is lower. And, unsurprisingly, people of color are still most ravaged by COVID-19, with the highest death rates among Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders and black people..
Here is a sub-number on COVID-19 deaths in California.
How small are they?
Since the start of the pandemic, the average age of Californians who have died of COVID-19 is 73, according to a California Department of State. But the median age dropped to 67 from April to September, and to 66 in August and September, according to a public health analysis of state data.
“We are seeing that it is not the older population that dominated many deaths earlier in the pandemic,” said Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra. “It is now skewing the young and the young in terms of hospitalization and – unfortunately – a fatality that has a very sad outcome.”
One major reason? Older people are vaccinated at higher rates than younger residents. About 67% of Californians 18 to 49 have been fully vaccinated, compared with 73% for people 65 and older.
Hospitalizations and infections are on the rise for Californians under the age of 18. But older age – and the underlying conditions that come with it – will still be a significant factor in mortality, said Dr. George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the university. of California, San Francisco.
What is racial breakdown? Has it changed?
According to state data, Latinos are dying at a lower rate in California than whites and blacks. However, Latinos have seen the sharpest increase in the death rate last month, rising from 2.4 deaths per 100,000 people in August to 4 per 100,000 in September. However, that rate is far from the peak last January, when 11 Latinos died per 100,000.
For black people, there were 7.4 deaths per 100,000 people from COVID-19 this month, down from 9.3 last January compared to six deaths per 100,000 in August. The death rate among the Asian American population and white people also increased this month. California currently has the second-lowest death rate among Asian Americans.
The culprit is most likely vaccine disparities: Latinos make up 39.4% of California’s vaccineable population, but they have received only 29.5% of the doses. This means that, proportionately, they are not getting the doses they should be getting in Latino communities, health experts say. Black people also make up a larger proportion of the vaccine-eligible population compared to the doses they receive.
According to Sarah Reyes, managing director of communications at the nonprofit California Endowment, one of the reasons for these disparities may be that communities of color still face access to vaccines, including those resulting from medical misinformation and medical mistrust. Hesitation, which focuses on improving health care. Access to disadvantaged communities.
“People need to understand that the myths and misconceptions of the medical community are real,” Reyes said. “They are real to communities that have, historically, suffered at the hands of a racist, systemic problem.”
Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have died at the highest rates of any racial group. But some good news: The rate dropped to 18.4 deaths per 100,000 people in January, to 17 in August and 11.8 in September.
Is gender discrimination increasing?
According to state data, men are dying at a slightly higher rate than at the start of the pandemic.
In September last year, 45.2% of the deaths were female and 54.6% were male. But in August 2021, it was 41% female and 58.9% male, indicating that the gap is widening in favor of women.
In Long Beach, 70% of deaths have occurred since July 2021, compared to 58% from March 2020 to July 2021.
Before the availability of the vaccine, men made up a slightly larger percentage of deaths than women. Now as the gap widens, vaccination may play a role.
“I can’t help thinking that some of that is due to failure to vaccinate — differential failure to vaccinate, which means women are more likely to be vaccinated than men,” Rutherford said.
Women are more likely to be vaccinated than men in the state, and there is still little difference between the proportion of men in the state’s vaccinated population and those who still need to be vaccinated.
How do deaths in California compare to other states?
California, as of last week, has the lowest seven-day death rate nationally — five deaths for every million residents — and the lowest rate since January, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What’s happening in California, however, is happening across the country: people 64 and younger account for a substantial portion of the deaths in 2021. National data also shows that the older you are, the more likely you are to be vaccinated. .
How do counties compare?
The average age of Californians dying from COVID is decreasing across the state.
In Fresno County, people aged 50 to 69 now make up a larger share of COVID-19 deaths than ever before, while those 70 and older make up a smaller share.
In Long Beach, which has its own health department, the median age of COVID death is 59 years since August 2021, down from 13 years from March 2020 to July 2021. In Long Beach, 99% of people 65 and older are vaccinated.
In Riverside County, people under the age of 45 made up 4.1% of total deaths between January and March. Between June and August, that number rose to 16.1%. Among adults, vaccination rates are lowest among those under the age of 45.
Jose Arbalo, senior public information specialist at Riverside University Health System-Public Health, said 11 people had died in Riverside County on September 20, and five of them were under the age of 40.
Were most of the people who died not vaccinated?
“Vaccines make up a tiny fraction of the deaths — about 500. Without a doubt, far and away, without question, 95% (preventing deaths) are vaccines,” Rutherford said.
Although there is still a chance of success cases, vaccination greatly reduces the chance of developing serious disease.
So if the best way to prevent deaths is a vaccine, how do health officials get the jab to young people? It’s complicated, but mandates — such as proof of vaccination for going to restaurants or working in certain locations — can help, Rutherford said. Fear can also be a motivator.
“People are afraid of the Delta version – as they should be,” Rutherford said.