The month of January 2021 was a grim period in Los Angeles County. Each day, an average of 234 people passed away from COVID-19. The highest single-day total was the 291 fatalities on Jan. 10.
By the end of the month, 7,242 had died, marking the worst month during any stage of the pandemic.
The rate of deaths fell soon thereafter, and since then it has never approached those levels again. But COVID-19 continues to take its toll. In the past week, 83 people have died from complications from the disease. And on July 22, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 20 COVID-19 fatalities among county residents.
That’s just part of the roller coaster Angelenos have endured since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. Through Aug. 22, Los Angeles County lost 33,027 lives to COVID-19, or more than a third of all the deaths in the state.
If there is any silver lining, it is that the region is experiencing far fewer deaths than occurred during the Omicron wave in the winter. In January, 1,905 county residents died of COVID-19.
The damage and heartbreak from the novel coronavirus is hard to fathom. According to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Research Center, there have been nearly 6.5 million deaths worldwide. In the United States alone, there have been approximately 1.04 million fatalities. California has lost more than 94,000 people, according to the research center.
The pace of deaths was highest before the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Those began to be administered in Los Angeles County in late 2020. It would be months until shots were available to anyone who wanted one.
Although current figures do not come close to those reported during the past two winters, on average, nearly a dozen Angelenos a day perish from COVID-19.
Who is dying
Since the earliest days, COVID-19 disproportionately infected and impacted low-income and minority communities. At the start of the pandemic, this was attributed primarily to two factors: Members of these communities often had more people residing in a single household, increasing the possibility of transmission if someone contracted the virus; and many people from these communities had jobs in essential positions, which required reporting to work in person. Zoom was often not a possibility.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 data page makes it difficult to fully discern death totals by race and ethnicity, as its tally does not include breakdowns for Long Beach and Pasadena (which each have their own health department). Pull out those cities, and the county’s death toll, as of Aug. 22, was 31,256.
Of that, Hispanic/Latino Angelenos have experienced more death than any other group, with 15,850 fatalities. That amounts to 50.7% of those who died. Hispanic-identifying individuals account for 49.3% of the Los Angeles County population.
According to Department of Public Health figures, 2,913 Black county residents have died of COVID-19. That is 9.3% of the deaths, more than the 8.2% of the population Black Angelenos represent.
Senior citizens have also long been vulnerable to the worst impacts of COVID-19. According to the Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard, people 80 and older account for 37.6% of fatalities recorded in Los Angeles County. This age group represents just 3% of the population.
Nearly 33.6% of fatalities have been among residents ages 65-79; only 10% of the population falls in this age range.
Altogether, Los Angeles County residents 50 and up account for nearly 90% of the total deaths during the course of the pandemic.
According to Department of Public Health data, as of Aug. 14, 356 people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County had died of COVID-19. This has contributed to an overall increase of deaths among the unhoused. In 2021, 1,988 people experiencing homelessness died, a nearly 56% jump from 2019.
How we did it: We analyzed coronavirus data related to new cases, deaths, hospitalizations and vaccinations provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
Interested in our data? Check out the Crosstown coronavirus interactive map or email firstname.lastname@example.org.