“Frankly horrifying”: The Latino death rate in Los Angeles County has increased by over 1000 percent since November, from adaily average of 3.5 deaths to 40 deaths per 100,000 residents, Rong-Gong Lin II and Luke Money report for the Los Angeles Times. “Our Latinx community is, in fact, bearing the worst of this pandemic,” said L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. Death rates are going up for all racial groups: In early January, an average of 12 per 100,000 Asian residents were dying each day, up from 1 per day in November. During that same time period, the daily death rate of white residents increased from an average of 1 to 10 per 100,000 residents; for Black residents this figure soared from 1 to 15. Still, the death rate for Latino residents is almost triple that of white residents. “While every single race and ethnicity group in L.A. County has seen a horrendous increase in mortality rates, the gap between the experiences of those in our Latinx community and all others is frankly horrifying,” Ferrer said.
- Also: Although low-income communities of color have suffered some of the greatest losses during the pandemic, the vast majority of vaccination shots are going to wealthy, white Americans, Abby Goodnough and Jan Hoffman report for The New York Times. In Philadelphia, where 44 percent of the population is Black, just 12 percent of the people given the vaccine have been Black; 17 percent of Miami-Dade County residents are Black, but just seven percent of vaccine recipients have been; in New York City, half of the available vaccine supply has gone to white residents, even though white residents make up less than a third of the city’s population. White coronavirus vaccine recipients in that city outnumber Asian and Latino recipients by more than 3 to 1, and Black recipients by more than 4 to 1, according to city data.
Hurricane a’comin’: Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and one of President Biden’s coronavirus advisers during the transition, says the deadlier British variant of Covid-19 could become the dominant strain spreading in the U.S. this spring, Joanna Walters reports for The Guardian. Osterholm said the surge of this variant will likely occur within the next six to 14 weeks. “That hurricane is coming,” he told NBC’s Meet the Press.
- Also: More than 26.3 million people in the U.S. have tested positive, and more than 444,000 people have died, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. Globally, more than 103.6 million people have tested positive and more than 2.2 million people have died.
All riders mask up: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has ordered that all passengers over the age of two to wear a mask on all public transportation and in public transportation hubs, Douglas Belkin writes for The Wall Street Journal, including airplanes, ships, trains, subways, buses, taxis, or ride-shares, as well as airports, bus or ferry terminals, train and subway stations, and seaports. “Requiring masks on our transportation systems will protect Americans and provide confidence that we can once again travel safely even during this pandemic,” Marty Cetron, director of the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, wrote in the order. The CDC had attempted to mandate masks under the previous administration, but was blocked by President Trump.
- Also: Anti-maskers have a new target for their ire: vaccination drives. As Marisa Gerber and Irfan Khan report for the Los Angeles Times, the group Shop Mask Free Los Angeles organized a demonstration at the Dodger Stadium Covid-19 vaccination site this weekend that disrupted operations, frustrating hundreds of vaccine hopefuls waiting in line. Protester recruits were advised by organizers on social media to “refrain from wearing Trump/MAGA attire as we want our statement to resonate with the sheeple.”
Side effects: Another day, another baffling side effect of serious Covid-19 infections; to blood clots, neurological disorders, and kidney and heart damage, you can now add diabetes. Erin Blakemore reports for The Washington Post that more than 14 percent of people hospitalized with a severe coronavirus infection developed diabetes, according to an analysis published late last year in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism. Currently, researchers don’t know how the virus may trigger diabetes, either Type 1 or Type 2, or if the condition will be temporary or permanent after recovery.
Fraud doctor sentenced: Dr. Mario Rosenberg—a Beverly Hills doctor who helped convince thousands of patients to undergo unnecessary and dangerous surgeries as part of an $154 million fraud scheme that was once called the largest medical fraud case in the nation—has been sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $2.9 million in restitution, Sean Emery reports for The Orange County Register. The sentencing comes seven years after Rosenberg pleaded no contest. Eighteen others were also indicted in connection with the scheme, including other doctors and lawyers who tried to hide the ill-gotten gains.
Google “discrimination”: Google LLC will pay over $3.8 million to more than 5,500 current employees and job applicants to resolve allegations of systemic compensation and hiring discrimination. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, during a routine compliance evaluation, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs found female software engineers employed by the company in California and Washington state were subject to pay discrimination. As part of the settlement, Google will pay $1,353,052 in back pay and interest to 2,565 female employees in engineering positions who were paid less than their male peers. Authorities also found that female and Asian applicants for software engineering positions were disadvantaged in the hiring process. As part of the settlement, Google will pay $1,232,000 in back pay and interest to 1,757 female and 1,219 Asian applicants not hired for software engineering positions.
The heat is on: Nearly 500 people in Arizona died from heat-related causes last year, a significant increase over the previous record of 283 such deaths in 2019, Ian James reports for The Arizona Republic. Last summer was Phoenix’s hottest on record, with 145 days with temperatures of 100 degrees or hotter and 53 days that hit 110 or hotter. “The number of people who have died from heat in Arizona over the past year is a staggering increase over previous years,” said David Hondula, an Arizona State University scientist. “We believe that every one of those deaths is preventable.” Experts say climate change-driven temperature spikes underscore the need to assist and protect those most vulnerable to heat illnesses and death, including older residents, unsheltered individuals, outdoor workers, and people who live in mobile homes or without air conditioning.
Sea lion cancer culprit: For decades, sea lions off the California coast have been dying of cancer. Now, scientists understand why: a toxic combination of DDT and herpes, Rosanna Xia reports for the Los Angeles Times. Years of necropsies on dead sea lions have shown that a previously unknown herpes virus was causing the cancer, and that sea lions with higher concentrations of DDT, PCBs and other chemicals in their tissues were more susceptible to the cancer. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of those chemicals to go around. The nation’s largest DDT manufacturer used to dump its waste not far from the Channel Islands, where many sea lions breed and feed their pups. Nearly a quarter of the sea lions brought to the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito have died of this one aggressive cancer, although cancer in general is rare in wild animals. The findings have implications for human health as well: “Sea lions, they’re coming up on the beach, using the same waters that we swim and surf in, eating a lot of the same seafood that we eat,” said Frances Gulland, a member of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission. “They’re predisposed to cancer by these high levels of legacy compounds that are still in the environment — and we are also exposed to these chemicals.”
FairWarning contributor Jessica McKenzie is an independent journalist. Find more of her work at jessicastarmckenzie.com.
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