Younger patients are dying from COVID-19 in Long Beach, new data shows

The average age of a person who dies of COVID-19 in Long Beach is now 59, according to new data from epidemiologists within the Long Beach Health and Human Services Department revealed Tuesday.

The data shows that the pandemic is now causing more severe disease among younger, unvaccinated residents, according to a statement from the city.

“There is a correlation between the vaccination data and COVID-related fatalities,” Health Department spokesperson Jennifer Rice Epstein wrote in an email. “We are seeing more severe disease in younger, unvaccinated residents. Our older adults, who were at very high risk for severe disease before the vaccine became available, are now our most highly-vaccinated group (more than 99% have received at least one dose).”

The data showed a 13-year drop from the average age of 72, which had originally been reported as the average age of those who died using data from March 2020 to July 2021.

The figures released Tuesday also show that there’s been an increased disparity in gender. Since July 2021, 70% of fatalities have been men, whereas deaths were more evenly split among genders before then.

In contrast to seniors’ high vaccination rates of at least one dose, 60.5% adults ages 18 through 35 have received at least one dose. More women are vaccinated than men with at least one dose with 52.4% of women being vaccinated 46.8% of men being vaccinated, according to the city.

Full vaccination can provide protection from severe symptoms of COVID-19, health experts said. The city’s vaccine portal shows that 55.4% of all age groups in the city are fully vaccinated.

Though hospitalizations are dropping in Long Beach and throughout Los Angeles County, the city is nearing 1,000 deaths as recent numbers show 989 people have died since the start of the pandemic.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of the 989 Long Beach residents who have died due to this terrible pandemic,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “The shift in the average age of fatalities shows the critical need for people—especially young folks who have been our least likely to get vaccinated—to protect themselves and others around them.”

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Sebastian Echeverry is the North Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of his grant-funded position with the Long Beach Post. If you want to support Sebastian's work, you can donate to his Report for America position at lbpost.com/support.
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