California officials for the first time are reporting their Coronavirus vaccination progress by race, sex, and age demographics — showing white people across the state are getting vaccinated at far greater numbers than nonwhite communities.
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In Orange County, that gap appears to be even wider.
Meanwhile, county officials late Tuesday announced that a new vaccination site will open Wednesday in Santa Ana College, after local officials in the city made repeated demands for a vaccine site in a hardest-hit and predominantly Latino city.
Statewide, white people make up 32% of the population receiving at least one vaccine dose so far, while Latinos — one of the most devastated demographics throughout the pandemic — make up just 16%, according to the new state data released Friday.
In Orange County, white people make up 46% of people with at least one vaccine dose so far while Latinos make up just 11%, according to the county’s own vaccine progress data.
But it’s been several days since the county’s data has been updated, and Orange County officials point to a lag time before the information is entered into the vaccine registry.
For example, the state data — which was updated on Feb. 15 — puts Orange County at more than 547,000 total vaccine doses administered so far, while the county’s own progress dashboard, last updated on Feb. 11, puts it at more than 367,000 doses administered.
The county’s vaccine data is set to be updated Thursday, making it unclear until then whether local officials have since made any progress — or have fallen further behind — in terms of shrinking the racial gap in vaccinated populations.
Latinos account for the most Covid-19 infections across Orange County despite not being the largest population demographic, according to official data.
“Targeting vaccinations in the places where you’re most likely to see infection would make the highest-impact in reducing the further spread of Covid-19,” said Dr. Shruti Gohil, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, Irvine (UCI).
“It’s basic epidemiology that the highest target for vaccination strategy should be those at highest risk,” Gohil said.
Cities with predominantly Latino populations like Santa Ana and Anaheim have chalked up some of the highest case counts.
Though the county appears to be doing better than the state in one respect:
Asian Americans make up 26% of people with at least one vaccine dose in Orange County so far. Statewide, that number is just 13%.
Mary Anne Foo, founder and executive director of the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA), said that may be because a high percentage of healthcare workers in Orange County — who have been prioritized for the vaccine — are Asian American.
The new state data comes as county officials announced a new Santa Ana College vaccination site set to open tomorrow.
It’s the third “point of dispensing” or POD site to open in the county, after county officials first looked at Soka University and Disneyland while Latino health leaders, activists and officials tried to get the county’s attention.
The Santa Ana College POD will operate five days a week, Tuesday to Saturday from 8 am to 5 pm.
It was first announced on Feb. 11 by Santa Ana officials, though at the time there were few known details around the opening date and appointments.
County spokeswoman Molly Nichelson didn’t respond to requests for more information about it throughout the day Tuesday.
That was until Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do announced it in an extensive press release complete with quotes from him about how the county is “ensuring” equity through its vaccine distribution strategies.
Santa Ana Unified School District officials last week had already taken it upon themselves to set up rotating testing sites across facilities inside the district.
District officials in opening the site criticized the county for not doing more to support Latino communities in Santa Ana and Anaheim.
And county officials, despite partnering with the school district for vaccine supply for the site, did nothing to promote it — unlike their media and publicity campaign for their Disneyland vaccination site earlier this year.
Meanwhile state officials continue to grapple with their own disparities in vaccine distribution, and doubled down on their commitments at the opening of the state’s first federally-funded, community mass vaccination site at Cal State Los Angeles on Tuesday.
The site, which is jointly managed by FEMA and the state, will serve as a test for U.S. President Joe Biden’s plan to open 100 such sites across the country.
“On the issue of equity — that’s what brings us here today,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom during the Tuesday news conference at the CSULA site. “This is what this site is all about. It’s proximate to a community that’s been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. The effort here is to address that forthrightly.”
Here in Orange County — as of Tuesday — the number of people reported in the hospital with the virus has gone down, now at 748 hospitalizations.
Meanwhile, deaths continue to spiral upward, now at 3,617 with 40 new deaths reported today.
To date, there have been 243,163 confirmed cases.
For context, Orange County has averaged around 20,000 deaths from other causes a year since 2016, including 543 annual flu deaths, according to state health data.
According to the state death statistics, cancer kills over 4,600 people, heart disease kills over 2,800, more than 1,400 die from Alzheimer’s disease and strokes kill over 1,300 people.
Orange County has already surpassed its yearly average 20,000 deaths, with 23,883 people dead as of December, according to the latest available state data.
Coronavirus deaths, meanwhile, have now surpassed the flu, heart diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and strokes as a cause of death in Orange County. Presently, only cancer has killed more residents on an annual basis than the virus.
Here’s the latest on the virus numbers across Orange County from county data: