One of the victims was Morris Mendoza, 72, who died six months ago from COVID, leaving behind heartbroken family and friends in Riverside. Some 210 out of 100,000 people lost their lives in Riverside County during the pandemic. It is one of the highest death rates in California.
“I was very shocked,” said Cindy Mendoza-Collins, her sister. “I still cry to this day. “
Gerald Zamora urged his best friend to fight.
“I said, ‘Don’t get carried away. Don’t get carried away. Do not give up.’ He said, ‘I can’t. I can not.’ “
Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties have an even higher death rate, according to I-Team analysis.
In LA there are 228 people per 100,000 and 258 in San Bernardino. In contrast, San Francisco has only 57 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.
“There are a lot of differences between northern and southern California in terms of demographics, in terms of big issues like social vulnerability that have to do with the level of poverty, the number of people living in close proximity to each other. », Declared Professor Anne Rimoin. , with the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.
Rimoin points out that San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area were the first in the state to implement strict stay-at-home orders. The 10 counties have less than 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
“There was a lot of respect for social distancing, masking and other measures,” she said.
LA County also has strict stay-at-home orders. But of the county’s 10 million people, one in five lives in poverty. This is a key factor when considering the “social vulnerability” of a community and the increased risk of a virus like COVID-19.
“So what we saw was that the virus was really going through these populations,” Rimoin said. “So when you have multigenerational households, you have young people who work and then bring it home to their families, and we’ve seen a lot of that here. “
And many of the communities hardest hit by the virus have also struggled to access vaccines.
“I think he could still be alive if we had the vaccines available here in the community at the time,” Mendoza-Collins said.
Mendoza-Collins says the virus that claimed his brother’s life almost took his own.
“It was horrible, the worst month of my life,” Mendoza-Collins said. “I thought I was going to die too. “
She is now fully vaccinated and is hopeful that the loss suffered by so many will bring about a meaningful change, a sentiment shared by dr. Rimoin.
“I think it’s really important to remember all the hard work that has been done to cross the wave and to the other side, and to continue on a trajectory where we save lives,” Rimoin said.