• LA county reported nearly 5,500 deaths due to COVID-19
  • About 92% of them had at least one pre-existing ailment
  • Health officials have identified the major underlying health conditions among those who succumbed to the virus

Health officials in Los Angeles County, which reported more than 5,000 COVID-19-related fatalities, on Thursday said most of the patients who died had pre-existing health conditions. The chief medical officer of the county, Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, said diabetes and high blood pressure were the most common underlying ailments found in those patients.

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, more than 5,000 people died of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County. On Thursday, 57 new deaths and 1,602 new cases were reported, raising the total COVID cases reported in the county to 227,346.

"About 5,500 persons have passed away from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County and you can see that nearly 3,000 had hypertension and over 2,000 — a big proportion of the deaths — had diabetes," Gunzenhauser told Patch.

Gunzenhauser also warned that people of all ages with underlying medical conditions are vulnerable to severe consequences or fatalities if they contract COVID-19.

Approximately 92% of LA County residents who died from COVID-19 had at least one underlying health condition. Apart from diabetes and hypertension, the patients also suffered from other common conditions like pulmonary disease, heart diseases, chronic renal disease, liver disease, obesity, and asthma.

A previous study had pointed out that 95 children in New York who suffered from COVID-19 complications had underlying ailments.

Gunzenhauser said that a vast majority of people above 65 years had high blood pressure and more than 10% of adults in the county had diabetes. Despite being in a healthy physical state and able to manage their conditions well, people with these underlying health conditions can get seriously ill and succumb to the virus, he warned.

"These are people that are in our communities. They go to work. They are out for shopping. They're all around us. It may be any of us. We have a collective responsibility to protect them. That's really what getting through COVID is all about," Gunzenhauser told Patch.

While most of those with pre-existing health conditions who succumbed were older adults aged 65 and above, Gunzenhauser said about one-fourth of them were aged 41-64 and about 3% of them were in the 18-40 age group.

He also expressed optimism about the recent downward trend in COVID-19 cases in the county.

"The number of hospitalizations, the number of deaths, and the positivity rate have been on the decline recently, which is really good news, and we are very hopeful that those positive trends will continue in the future," he added.

According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals of any age with certain underlying medical conditions like cancer, type 2 diabetes mellitus, heart diseases, obesity, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney disease, sickle cell disease and if they are in an immunocompromised state are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

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