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LA masks up as hyper-contagious Delta variant surges at warp speed

“The extreme vulnerability of people who are not vaccinated, which will account for infections, hospitalizations, and, ultimately, deaths”

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – The County of Los Angeles is now positioned on the front lines of the national battle to contain the hyper-contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus. As cases and numbers explode in the United States, the decision by the County’s health officials to order residents to mask-up even if fully vaccinated indoors may prove to be the national blueprint for combatting transmission of the disease.

The Health Department’s new order takes effect at 11:59 p.m. Saturday everywhere in Los Angeles County, except Pasadena. (Pasadena and Long Beach have their own health departments; Long Beach followed L.A. County with its own mask order, but Pasadena still only recommends everyone mask up.)

Nearly two weeks after the Fourth of July holiday and one month after the June 15 reopening, transmission of COVID-19 in L.A. County has rapidly increased to very concerning levels. This is due to the presence of the more infectious Delta variant and the intermingling of unmasked individuals where vaccination status is unknown. 

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed 1,827 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday afternoon; a four-fold increase from the 457 cases seen on July 4 and an eight-fold increase from the 210 cases seen on June 15.

Saturday’s daily test positivity rate is 3.7%.  On July 4, test positivity was near 1.5% and June 15, test positivity was near 0.5%.

Not every official however is onboard, on Friday Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, publicly announced; “Forcing the vaccinated and those who already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks indoors is not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.”

The Sheriff went on to add, “The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) has authority to enforce the order, but the underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance.  We encourage the DPH to work collaboratively with the Board of Supervisors and law enforcement to establish mandates that are both achievable and supported by science.”

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex-Villanueva with wife Vivian
(Blade photo by Karen Ocamb)

The Sheriff’s announcement prompted reaction from West Hollywood City Mayor Lindsey Horvath who tweeted, “Last I checked, he’s not a scientist, nor is he a medical or healthcare professional. Let’s leave those decisions to the experts while we all do our part to take care of each other & get through this thing together.”

On Friday during the regularly scheduled White House COVID-19 Response Team and Public Health Officials briefing Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters;

“CDC reported more than 33,000 new cases of COVID-19. [Thursday]  Our seven-day average is about 26,300 cases per day, and this represents an increase of nearly 70 percent from the prior seven-day average, she said. “There is a clear message that is coming through: This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.  We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk.  And communities that are fully vaccinated are generally faring well,” she added.

The CDC head also noted “the good news is that if you are fully vaccinated, you are protected against severe COVID, hospitalization, and death, and are even protected against the known variants — including the Delta variant — circulating in the country” But she cautioned, “If you are not vaccinated, you remain at risk.  And our biggest concern is that we are going to continue to see preventable cases, hospitalizations, and, sadly, deaths among the unvaccinated.”

The chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, Dr. Anthony Fauci told the briefing; “We are dealing with a formidable variant in the Delta variant, as reflected by the data that Dr. Walensky told you, and the extreme vulnerability of people who are not vaccinated, which will account for infections, hospitalizations, and, ultimately, deaths.
 
And so the message loud and clear that we need to reiterate is that these vaccines continue to strong protection against SARS-CoV-2, including the Delta variant.  And so — why it’s so important for yourself, your family, and your community to get vaccinated.”

Biden administration officials in the effort to get the remaining population vaccinated are also combating misinformation about the vaccines and COVID-19 spread even among those fully vaccinated in what the U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Vivek Hallegere Murthy warned is “a serious threat to public health,” as the Biden administration grows increasingly concerned about misleading claims about coronavirus vaccines.

The President addressed those concerns in a question posed as he was departing the White House Friday afternoon. When asked by NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Peter Alexander, “What’s your message to platforms like Facebook regarding COVID misinformation?” The president responded saying “They’re killing people.”

“The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and that’s — they’re killing people,” he added.

A spokesperson for Facebook angrily deflected the President’s remarks in a media statement saying in part, “More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine. The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”

U.S. Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy (Screenshot via C-SPAN)

Indirectly taking aim at social media giant Facebook, the Surgeon General had told reporters Thursday, “Now, health misinformation didn’t start with COVID-19. What’s different now though is the speed and scale at which health misinformation is spreading. Modern technology companies have enabled misinformation to poison our information environment with little accountability to their users. They’ve allowed people who intentionally spread misinformation — what we call “disinformation” — to have extraordinary reach,” he said.
 
“They’ve designed product features, such as “Like” buttons, that reward us for sharing emotionally-charged content, not accurate content. And their algorithms tend to give us more of what we click on, pulling us deeper and deeper into a well of misinformation,” Murthy added.

In a series of phone calls, public health officials at local, state, and federal levels told the Blade that with the onslaught of the Delta variant, Americans need to be more vigilant- especially as Americans are traveling more and headed out to favored holiday or even local activities.

An official for the CDC, who is knowledgeable but not authorized to speak publicly, acknowledged that there seemed to be a generalized perception that a person being fully vaccinated is immune which is worrisome as the official reiterated Dr. Fauci’s public statement Friday that the bottom line continues to be very simple: “While fully vaccinated individuals have a high degree of protection against serious illness from COVID-19, including the Delta variant.” The official went on to note that a fully vaccinated person can be infected asymptomatic and be a source of transmission especially the Delta variant.

When asked about the health order in Los Angeles to order masks indoors even if fully vaccinated the CDC official said that erring on the side of caution in the face of the lightening spread of the Delta variant was not only prudent but would ultimately save lives.

As LA County prepares to have Angelenos mask-up again, debate also peppers discussions on social media and elsewhere over the issue of breakthrough COVID-19 cases. The CDC defines breakthrough to any presumed infection by SARS-CoV-2 (that is, any positive coronavirus test) if it’s detected more than two weeks after someone receives the final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Media reports on a series of breakthrough COVID-19 cases in Provincetown, Massachusetts, a popular Cape Cod holiday destination especially in the LGBTQ community, suggests that the CDC and health department’s information on degree of illness experienced being milder than would be the case if unvaccinated, is backed by the science and data.

According to a spokesperson for the Barnstable County Department of Health, which covers all of the Cape including Provincetown, there have been breakthrough documented cases among residents, especially on the Provincetown island. In a statement released earlier in the week health department officials noted;

Cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Provincetown, in consultation with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The positive cases were identified in individuals presenting with mild respiratory symptoms and were tested for COVID-19.

Overwhelmingly, the affected individuals have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19. The moderate intensity of symptoms indicates that the vaccines are working as predicted. Provincetown has among the highest vaccination rates in the Commonwealth, with 114% of the eligible population age 12 and older in Provincetown having been fully vaccinated.

Health officials expect to continue to see a low level of positive cases through the summer in a community such as Provincetown with a seasonal population of approximately 60,000. As we enter a new phase of living with the virus, vaccination remains our strongest defense in preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.”

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and a specialist in infectious diseases, explained that while breakthrough cases are going to occur, all cases would be decreased if everyone just got the vaccine already.

Perhaps most important, mini outbreaks like this one do nothing to dent the clear reality that the vaccines are safe and effective.

“These people somehow believe that COVID is going to magically disappear,” he told The Daily Beast. “We are going to be having COVID cases ten years from now. And breakthrough cases will occur no matter what.”

Los Angeles entrepreneurial executive Brian Pendleton, a private pilot, had flown his plane to the Cape to spend the July 4 holiday weekend at Provincetown along with his partner. Halfway through his holiday there he experienced symptoms including headaches, congestions, he told the Blade this week. Upon returning to Los Angeles he was tested for COVID-19 and initially received a negative result. But he says after a PCR test he was tested positive.

Courtesy of Brian Pendleton

Pendleton said that his partner also tested positive and later discovered that his partner’s 70 something parents had also tested positive. All of them have been vaccinated for the disease, Pendleton noting that he received his second dose of Moderna at LA’s mass vaccination site at Dodger stadium in April.

Los Angeles County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis acknowledged that a percentage of vaccinated people will be affected by that the numbers are miniscule in comparison to those who remain unvaccinated and are at much greater exposure to hospitalization and dying from the disease.

Speaking about the new mask mandate, Davis said that it applies to everyone, including vaccinated people. That’s because he and other public health officials want to make masking a universal practice, to ensure everyone who needs to is doing it.

“I don’t think in general that self-attestation is actually good and there may be some people who are unvaccinated and don’t want to make that known,” Davis said in announcing the revised rules Thursday. “That just puts others at risk.”

Groups who are exempt from the rules remain unchanged from earlier in the pandemic: children under 2 and anyone who can’t safely wear a mask.

The main push now Davis and other officials are urging, is to get as many Angelenos vaccinated as possible. As of this week, 61% of county residents age 16 and older are fully vaccinated, and more than 5 million people total.

Officials want to achieve a vaccination rate of at least 80% to reach herd immunity, which means even unvaccinated people are protected from the virus’ uncontrolled spread. The date the county is expected to get to that number has been repeatedly pushed back, and now it’s not expected to come before fall.

“We continue to see fewer folks than we’d like to see getting their first dose of vaccine, week to week,” Davis said. “As there is currently substantial community transmission of COVID-19 here in L.A. County and in our nation, that urgency to get more people vaccinated remains high.”

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Los Angeles

LA Pride Parade announces grand marshals, KABC 7 to broadcast

The parade route begins at Sunset Boulevard and Highland Avenue ending at Sunset and Cahuenga boulevards in Hollywood

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Actor George Takei, wrestler Cassandro El Exotico and LAFD Chief Kristin Crowley will serve as grand marshals of the 2024 LA Pride Parade. (Photo montage: LA Blade)

LOS ANGELES – Actor George Takei, wrestler Cassandro El Exotico and LAFD Chief Kristin Crowley will serve as grand marshals of the 2024 LA Pride Parade, LA Pride has announced.

The 2024 LA Pride Parade and block party is slated for Sunday, June 9, in Hollywood, and ABC7 is returning as the official broadcast and streaming partner.

According to KABC 7 the parade will have three grand marshals. Takei is designated the “Icon Grand Marshal.” As an actor he was most known for playing Hikaru Sulu in the original “Star Trek” series and films. But he is also an accomplished activist for social justice and LGBTQ+ causes.

“To be recognized in this way by the LGBTQ+ community, an extraordinary group of individuals who have fought tirelessly for equality, is truly overwhelming. As someone who has witnessed the struggles and triumphs of our community over the years, I am filled with gratitude for the progress we have made and inspired to continue the fight for full acceptance and equality for all,” Takei said in a statement.

Cassandro El Exotico is designated the “Legacy Grand Marshal.” Born Saul Armendariz, he is known as a Mexican professional wrestler known for breaking barriers in the world of lucha libre by embracing his openly gay identity in the ring. The film “Cassandro” about his life starring Gael Garcia Bernal was released last year.

Crowley will serve as the “Community Grand Marshal.” She was named Los Angeles Fire Department chief in March 2022, becoming the first woman and first openly gay person to hold the position.

ABC7 will broadcast the 54th annual LA Pride Parade on June 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The coverage will be hosted by Ellen Leyva and “Good Morning America” weekend co-anchor Gio Benitez, with David Gonzalez, Sophie Flay and Karl Schmid reporting from the parade route.

Graphic via LA Pride

The parade route begins at Sunset Boulevard and Highland Avenue heading north, then east onto Hollywood Boulevard, then south onto Cahuenga Boulevard, ending at Sunset and Cahuenga boulevards.

After the parade, the LA Pride Block Party starts at 12 p.m. on Hollywood Boulevard.

Latin superstar Ricky Martin was previously announced as the headliner for the Pride in the Park festival the night before the parade, Saturday, June 8.

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LA’s lost an iconic entertainment reporter, Sam Rubin dies at 64

Rubin was a longtime fixture in the entertainment landscape beloved by celebrities and the public alike & spending his career solely at KTLA

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Sam Rubin (Screenshot/YouTube KTLA)

LOS ANGELES – A beloved and respected member of the entertainment press corps in Southern California, KTLA’s Sam Rubin, died Friday morning at the age of 64 after suffering a fatal cardiac arrest.

A source close to the station confirmed to Variety that Rubin died at his home in Brentwood of a heart attack after doing his regular Hollywood news segments on KTLA’s 7-9 a.m. “Morning News” program on Friday.

Rubin was a longtime fixture in the entertainment landscape beloved by celebrities and the public alike and with the rarity of spending his professional career solely at KTLA.

In a statement to Variety, Perry Sook, chairman and CEO of Nexstar, called the entertainment news anchor “an icon” for the region and the industry.

“Sam was an icon in Los Angeles and the entertainment industry and he was a beloved member of our Nexstar Nation. My prayers are with his family and the KTLA family as we mourn his passing. He will be missed.”

KTLA reported:

Rubin joined KTLA 5 Morning News in Los Angeles in 1991, where he instantly made an impact with his unmatched, encyclopedic knowledge of film and television. Over the years, his reports and interviews informed and entertained millions of television viewers in L.A. and beyond.

“The Sam that you saw on the air is the Sam that was off the air,” Rubin’s longtime colleague and friend Frank Buckley said in announcing his passing on live television. “To all of us he shared his mornings with on television, and to those he worked with behind the scenes at KTLA, we will not forget him.”

According to his KTLA biography:

Since joining the show in 1991, he has established a reputation as someone who goes beyond the entertainment headlines of the day. His insights and exploration of the deeper meaning and impact of the stories within the entertainment industry generate conversation within the business, as well as outside it.

Sam is a multiple-Emmy winner; has received the Golden Mike Award for best entertainment reporter; has received a lifetime achievement award from the Southern California Broadcasters Association; and has been named best entertainment reporter by the Los Angeles Press Club.

Sam was honored by the National Hispanic Media Coalition with its 2013 Impact Award for outstanding integrity in broadcast journalism.

He is the author of two published books, and has seen his work published in both print and online around the world. Sam regularly appears on BBC television and radio in the United Kingdom, and is a regular contributor to Triple M radio and Channel 9 television network in Australia.

Sam is one of the founding members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the largest organization of film and television critics in the United States with more than 200 members. In 1996, the BFCA began the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, now regarded in the same tier as the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. The 2013 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, hosted by Sam, was seen in more than 2 million homes, making it the No. 1 rated show in Los Angeles and other major cities. It was also the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter that evening and generated more than 500 million impressions online.

Sam is the owner of SRE, Inc., a television production company that has produced more than 200 hours of broadcast and cable programming, including several “Live From” red carpet shows and 120 episodes of the talk show “Hollywood Uncensored.”

Off the air, Sam supports various non-profit organizations including putting together a KTLA team for the annual MS 150 Bay to Bike Tour, the premiere cycling event in Southern California raising funds to find a cure for multiple sclerosis. He also is interested in revitalizing Los Angeles schools, including support for literacy programs and events such as the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

Sam received his Bachelor of Arts degree in American studies and rhetoric at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

Sam lived in Brentwood with his wife Leslie and their four children.

Sam’s son, Colby, joined KTLA 5 Morning News on Monday, May 13, 2024 to reflect on his father’s passing and share a message to him.

Celebrating KTLA 5 Morning News’ 30th anniversary with Sam Rubin:

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Los Angeles

Los Angeles Tourism joins with LGBTQ+ folks to celebrate Pride

LA Pride returns, promising an incredible lineup of events, including LA Pride in the Park headlined by Ricky Martin

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Photo Credit: Discover Los Angeles/LA Tourism Board

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Tourism will join the 54th annual LA Pride festivities this June through its support of the organization and its annual lineup of events. LA Pride stands as one of the largest Pride celebrations in the United States and the world.

Throughout LA Pride, local Angelenos and travelers can secure a nearby hotel with the best available rates and enjoy welcome amenities, discounts and more at select properties.

“LA Pride beautifully captures the spirit of our City of Angels with its focus on unity, inclusivity, and self-expression,” said Adam Burke, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board. “We are incredibly proud to invite both our fellow Angelenos as well as travelers from around the world to join us in celebrating our LGBTQ+ community.”

LA Pride returns, promising an incredible lineup of events, including LA Pride in the Park headlined by Ricky Martin, the LA Pride Parade & Block Party on Hollywood Boulevard, LGBTQ+ Pride Night at Dodger Stadium and PRIDE is Universal

 

LA Pride in the Park will take place on Saturday, June 8, 2024 across more than 20 acres of lush green space at LA State Historic Park. The event will feature dozens of local and LGBTQ+ vendors, a huge variety of food & beverage, beer gardens and a special lineup. The global icon Ricky Martin will headline LA Pride in the Park, with additional artists to be unveiled. As the first openly gay Latin artist to take center stage at LA Pride, this also marks Martin’s first-ever headliner Pride performance, anywhere.

The series of events during LA Pride includes the iconic LA Pride Parade which will be held on Sunday, June 9, 2024, in Hollywood Boulevard Area. Over 150 contingents will march this year, using the theme “Power in Pride.” The route will be along Hollywood Blvd, and surrounding streets. Those who can’t make it in person are able to watch a live broadcast on ABC7.

“LA Pride radiates a vibrant tapestry of acceptance, unity, and celebration year-round,” shared Gerald Garth, Board President, LA Pride/Christopher Street West. “It’s a testament to our city’s unwavering commitment to embrace diversity and foster an inclusive spirit that transcends boundaries.”

Additional top events during LA Pride include LA Pride in The Park, Parade Block Party, LGBTQ+ Night at Dodger Stadium and Pride is Universal. Read on for details on top events and hotel deals throughout Pride.

For more information about how to celebrate Pride in Los Angeles, visit DiscoverLosAngeles.com/GayLA.

LA PRIDE: EVENTS

LA Pride in The Park – June 8th

Returning to LA State Historic Park for a talented music line-up, dozens of food trucks, sponsor giveaways and activities and much more. LA Pride in The Park takes place on Saturday, June 8th. It’s all happening on over 20 acres of lush green space with a view of the DTLA skyline. Ricky Martin will headline LA Pride in the Park, with additional artists to be unveiled. Tickets can be purchased here.

Parade Block Party – June 9th

Don’t forget the fun Parade Block Party on June 9th, a free Block Party adjacent to the Parade, open from mid-day and going into the evening. With a performance stage, large vendor village, food, pop-up bars, and more. Last year, 35,000 people enjoyed this free Parade “after-party,” don’t miss it! Talent and other announcements coming soon!

LGBTQ+ Pride Night at Dodger Stadium – June 14th

Come watch the Dodgers take on the Kansas City Royals with LA Pride pre-game festivities featuring DJ party, and Pride merch for special ticket holders, only available at dodgers.com/lapride

Pride is Universal – June 15th

Our exclusive after-hours theme park takeover is a fan favorite. Pride is Universal will feature live DJs, Universal character meet-and-greets, photo ops, and more, with musical guests, drag performers and all new elements for this year.  Hours, details, and new features to be announced. Tickets go on sale soon.

LA PRIDE: STAY & SLAY

Visitors coming to Los Angeles to celebrate Pride from June 8-11 can “Stay and Slay” with a collection of hotel offers specially curated by Los Angeles Tourism to welcome revelers from around the world. Highlighted hotel offers are listed out below.

Dream Hollywood Hotel

Tucked among the scenic Hollywood Hills, Dream Hollywood boasts 178 playfully sophisticated guest rooms with subtle nods to the mid-century modern aesthetic iconic to LA. Featuring accommodations with unparalleled views, Tao, Beauty & Essex, and The Highlight Room, one of the LA’s swankiest rooftop pools. Book the best available rate here.

The Godfrey Hotel Hollywood

Exuding the energy of old Hollywood and walking distance to Sunset Blvd, the new Godfrey Hotel features one of the largest rooftops in Los Angeles, four on-site bars, various indoor-outdoor event spaces and About Last Knife, an energetic, chef-driven gastropub-meets-steakhouse. LA Pride Staycation: Celebrate love with The Godfrey and receive 15% off the best available rate here.

Hollywood Hotel – The Hotel of Hollywood

Contemporary accommodations meet quintessential Hollywood glamour at Hollywood Hotel. From a sparkling pool to the Route 66 Bistro Bar & Lounge, the historic Hollywood Hotel reflects classic movie star style in every sense. Visit hotel site for best available rate here.

The Hollywood Roosevelt

The Hollywood Roosevelt is a complete lifestyle destination, fusing entertainment, art, culture, design and music all around the property while providing a glimpse at its storied past. Visit hotel site for best available rate here.

Kimpton Everly Hollywood

Kimpton Everly Hollywood is a breath of fresh air in the midst of one of the world’s most storied neighborhoods. The sophisticated Hollywood Hills-infused residential vibe invites lingering and intimate interaction in the café, living room and skyline pool area. Book the hotel’s best available rate here.

Loews Hollywood Hotel

Loews Hollywood Hotel rises 20 floors above the famed intersection of Hollywood and Highland. Spectacular views of the iconic Hollywood sign and Los Angeles cityscape set the stage for 628 rooms including 113 spacious suites, as well as the rooftop pool. *Use CODE: PRIDE to receive 2 comp cocktails at H2 Kitchen & Bar and complimentary upgrade to a suite. Website here.

Mama Shelter

Designed by Thierry Gaugain to honor the beauty of the SoCal landscape, Mama Shelter LA features five floors of uniquely decorated rooms, each a cozy haven in itself. 70 rooms have king-size beds decked out in 5* linen – fit for a movie star! The hotel boasts one of LA’s best rooftop bars, while dining options will appeal to carnivores and vegans alike. View hotel site for best available rate here.

Sheraton Universal

Nestled below the Hollywood Hills, the Sheraton Universal Hotel is just steps away from Universal Studios Hollywood and CityWalk. Unwind at the poolside lounge or be dazzled with a 270-degree view of Hollywood from the 20-foot windows of the rooftop Starview Room. Book the hotel’s best available rate here.

Thompson Hollywood

Thompson Hollywood is a luxurious new hotel that brings elevated service, and laidback California cool to the heart of Hollywood. The hotel features 190 sophisticated guest rooms and 16 suites, a rooftop pool with sweeping views of Los Angeles, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. The world-class culinary and nightlife destinations include the rooftop lounge Bar Lis, chef Lincoln Carson’s French-inspired Mes Amis, and The Terrace, which pairs European fare with Californian views. Use CODE: STAYPROUD to receive best available rate + bottle of wine + 10% donation to Hollywood LGBT Center. Website here.

Tommie Hollywood

Get comfy in a California way, at Tommie Hollywood. There’s a stylish rooftop pool, fitness center, and a terrace bar in the heart of Los Angeles. This 4-star hotel includes the latest restaurant by award winning chef, Wes Avila, Ka’teen. Use code: STAYPROUD to book the best available rate and receive a welcome amenity and bottle of wine, plus a 10% donation to Hollywood LGBT Center here.

W Hollywood Hotel & Residences

Welcome to the new Hollywood. W Hollywood brings together the magnetic spirit of the Golden Era, infused with epic innovation, elegance and excitement. Welcome backstage, where W guests are insiders in the vivacity of the spotlight. Receive 10% off hotel stay plus welcome amenity. Website here.

When you’re not celebrating LA pride at the parade or many events around the city, celebrate by visiting one of the many LGBTQ+ owned restaurants around Los Angeles. Start off in Casita Del Campo in Silverlake for Mexican dishes, make a stop Liberation Coffee House for a latte and end the night at n/naka which was featured in Season 1 of Netflix’s Chef’s Table. n/naka is your ultimate destination for fine Japanese cuisine. View the full guide to LGBTQ owned restaurants in LA here.

For more information, visit discoverlosangeles.com, follow at facebook.com/DiscoverLosAngeles, or @discoverLA on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.

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Los Angeles

Ricky Martin will be the headliner for 2024 LA Pride in the Park

LA Pride in the Park will return to the Los Angeles State Historic Park on Saturday, June 8. Across 20 acres with a capacity for 25,000

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Photo Credit: Ricky Martin/WeHoTimes

By Paulo Murillo | LOS ANGELES – Ricky Martin is headlining LA Pride 2024 at Los Angeles State Historic Park. Christopher Street West Association (CSW) – the 501(c)3 nonprofit that has produced the iconic LA Pride celebration for more than 50 years – announced this week.

In a press release CSW stated that global icon Ricky Martin will headline LA Pride in the Park, with additional artists to be unveiled. As the first openly gay Latin artist to take center stage at the highly-anticipated Pride event of the year, this marks Martin’s first-ever headliner Pride performance.

LA Pride in the Park will return to the Los Angeles State Historic Park on Saturday, June 8. Across 20 acres and with a capacity for 25,000, LA Pride in the Park is one of the most sought-after and largest Official Pride concerts in the country. Additionally, the official theme for this year’s Pride season is “Power in Pride,” which celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community’s ability to live authentically.

General Admission and VIP Passes are now available to purchase at lapride.org.

“I am thrilled to be headlining LA Pride in the Park because it’s an incredible opportunity to celebrate love, diversity, and equality,” said Martin. “LA Pride is a testament to the power of community, the power of visibility, and the power of standing up for our rights. Being part of this vibrant community fills me with pride and purpose.”

“With his electrifying stage presence and chart-topping hits, Ricky Martin has long been an inspiration to millions around the world,” said Gerald Garth, board president of CSW/LA Pride. “His participation in LA Pride in the Park goes beyond mere entertainment; it symbolizes a powerful affirmation of queer Latin identity and a celebration of diversity within the LGBTQ+ community. We cannot wait to be ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ while beaming with Pride!”

Ricky Martin, a global music icon, is a multi-talented artist known for his accomplishments as a singer, songwriter, actor and author. He has won multiple GRAMMY® Awards and is considered one of the most influential superstars in history, often referred to as the “King of Latin Pop.” Throughout his nearly four-decade career, Martin brought Latin music and culture to the mainstream, paving the way for crossover talent.

Born in Puerto Rico, Martin gained fame as a member of the popular Latin American band Menudo before embarking on a successful solo career. Notably, he became the first Latin American male to star in a MAC Viva Glam Campaign, raising significant funds for HIV/AIDS research. With over 180 awards, including two GRAMMY® and four Latin GRAMMY® Awards, Martin made history and has been recognized as the youngest-ever “Person of the Year” by the Latin Recording Academy.

He is also an accomplished actor, earning an EMMY® nomination for his role in FX’s “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” and displaying his talent on Broadway. He starred in “Jingle Jangle” for Netflix, opposite Forest Whitaker, Anika Noni Rose and Hugh Bonneville and can now be seen in the highly lauded Apple TV series “Palm Royale” alongside Laura Dern, Kristen Wiig, Allison Janney and Carol Burnett.

Beyond his artistic achievements, Martin is a dedicated philanthropist. He established the Ricky Martin Foundation, which actively fights against human trafficking and modern-day slavery. As a Global Ambassador for UNICEF, he has provided significant support to communities affected by natural disasters.

Martin has received numerous humanitarian awards, including the Hispanic Federation’s “Humanitarian Award” and the Human Rights Campaign’s “National Visibility Award.” In recognition of his contributions, the City of New York declared “Ricky Martin Day” to honor his artistic legacy and philanthropic work.

Information about parking, transportation, safety, security, medical support, participating vendors, and further programming will be available soon.

For sponsorship and other talent inquiries, contact LA Pride at [email protected]. For more information, follow @lapride on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.

******************************************************************************************

Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, which include the “Hot Topic” column in Frontiers magazine, where he covered breaking news and local events in West Hollywood. He can be reached at [email protected]

The preceding article was previously published at WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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Los Angeles

LA leaders call for unity & protection for trans community

LAPD has noted a 13 percent increase in overall hate crimes, with LGBTQ+ specific hate crimes up by 33 percent

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LAPD Deputy Chief Ruby Flores speaks to reporters during a April 15, 2024 press conference. (Photo by Simha Haddad)

LOS ANGELES – Addressing a concerning escalation of threats against LGBTQ+ organizations throughout the country, leaders from TransLatin@ Coalition, the Los Angeles Police Department, and other officials gathered in a press conference to denounce acts of intimidation and to call for unity and protective measures for the trans and queer community.

A bomb threat called in to the LAPD on March 28, aimed at the TransLatin@ Coalition specifying today April 15 as the target date, has prompted an immediate and ongoing response from local authorities to ensure the safety of those at the coalition’s facilities and others. The LAPD has since been closely monitoring the site. 

The suspect, identified as Henry Nolkemper, a white 61 year old male, was arrested by LAPD shortly afterward after being observed entering his residence on West 53rd Street. The police then searched his residence. Despite the absence of explosives, he was booked under serious charges including criminal threats with a hate crime enhancement.

Nolkemper, known to have a history of mental health issues, was on parole for previous threats to the community. His parole has since been revoked and he is currently held on a one million dollar bail.

The press conference today began with remarks from Robin Toma, Executive Director of LA vs Hate, who highlighted the organization’s role as the third largest source of hate crime reporting in Los Angeles, trailing only police sources.

He also stated that LA vs Hate has reported a troubling increase in trans-specific crimes, noting that such incidents are grossly underreported, a sentiment echoed by surveys within the trans community.

Robin Toma, Executive Director of LA vs Hate, Bamby Salcedo at the podium speaking, LAPD Assistant Chief Blake Chow, & Capri Maddox, Executive Director, City of LA Civil + Human Rights & Equity Dept. (Photo by Simha Haddad)

Bamby Salcedo, President and CEO of TLC, expressed her gratitude for the continued support from various partners and emphasized the daily challenges faced by transgender individuals. “Every day a trans woman steps out of her home, it is a revolutionary act. We are people who walk with targets on our backs,” Salcedo declared, setting a tone of resilience and defiance against the threats.

Special thanks were given to Supervisor Hilda Solis and Jury Candelario, a partner from APAIT and a Filipino immigrant, who marked 35 years in America by calling the trans-related stress “chronic” in his long tenure as a social worker. Esther Lim, representing Supervisor Solis, condemned the bomb threat as an act of “cowardice” and highlighted Solis’ support through a previous $55,000 contribution to TLC and a new motion to establish LA’s first LGBTQ+ commission.

Assistant Chief Blake Chow and Deputy Chief Ruby Flores of the LAPD provided updates on the legal actions following the threat. They noted a 13 percent increase in overall hate crimes, with LGBTQ+ specific hate crimes up by 33 percent. “Behind each hate crime, there is a victim, there are families,” Flores said, urging the community to report incidents and support anti-hate education initiatives.  “These crimes affect people in ways statistics can’t reflect.” 

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The press conference also featured voices from the community like Mariana Marroquin, Associate Director of Trans Wellness, who spoke passionately about the ingrained nature of hate experienced by trans individuals from a young age, and Cari Maddox, who emphatically stated, “Hate has no home in Los Angeles.”

Mark Bayard, representing Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon, affirmed the DA’s commitment to fighting hate crimes vigorously, especially in light of the upcoming election season, which often sees a spike in such incidents.

As the community grapples with this latest threat, the message from today’s conference was clear: solidarity, education, and legal protection are key to combating hate and fostering a society where transgender people can integrate fully and safely.

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Los Angeles

24-year-old trans Latina Angeleno & makeup artist shot to death

“This incident has prompted renewed calls for legislative action to address gun control and protect marginalized groups from violence”

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Meraxes Medina/Instagram

LOS ANGELES – In a tragic incident that has shaken the community and advocates for LGBTQ+ rights, Meraxes Medina, a 24-year-old transgender Latina and makeup artist, was fatally shot in Los Angeles on March 21.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, Medina was found dead on the road in South Los Angeles. The LAPD said she was shot in the head and that there was evidence she was also struck by a vehicle. Friends and family have confirmed Medina’s identity, celebrating her life and mourning her untimely death, which marks another violent act against transgender individuals.

Medina, known for her work at Universal Studios and her vibrant presence on social media, had begun hormone therapy and was navigating life as an undocumented person who had faced homelessness. Despite these challenges, those close to her remembered her for her potential and the positive impact she had on those around her. Friends have expressed their grief and shock, emphasizing Medina’s kindness, talent, and the bright future they believed she deserved.

The circumstances surrounding Medina’s death reflect a larger pattern of violence targeting the transgender community, particularly transgender women of color. Advocacy groups have highlighted the disproportionate impact of gun violence on transgender individuals, noting that a significant percentage of homicides within this community involve firearms.

The incident has prompted renewed calls for legislative action to address gun control and protect marginalized groups from violence.

California chapters of groups with Everytown for Gun Safety released a statement underscoring Medina was at least the third transgender person killed by gun violence in the U.S.

“We cannot ignore the disproportionate impact of gun violence on our transgender and gender-expansive neighbors, especially its impact on Black trans women and trans Latinas. We must honor Meraxes’ legacy by continuing to fight to protect our transgender and gender-expansive communities not only in California, but across the country,” said Ashley Castillo, a student leader with Students Demand Action and National Organizing Board Member.

As the investigation continues, Medina’s death serves as a poignant reminder of the urgent need for a societal shift to ensure the safety and dignity of all individuals, regardless of gender identity. “The loss of Meraxes Medina is not only a tragedy for those who knew her but also a call to action to combat hate and violence against the transgender community,” said one activist.

“Meraxes was a young woman who deserved to live out a long and fulfilling life. At just 24-years-old, she had so much more to give. Yet again, we find ourselves honoring the life and mourning the loss of someone from our transgender community killed by gun violence, and that alarming reality should emphasize our collective need to fight against lax gun laws. We need to come together and remind everyone, especially lawmakers and politicians, that our lives are worth saving and worth living,” said Tori Cooper, Human Rights Campaign Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative.

Bamby Salcedo, President/CEO of The TransLatin@ Coalition, issed the following statement:  “It’s unfortunate that our sister Meraxes Medina had to perish to the ignorance and violence that we continue to experience as a community, and these are just another examples of what our lives are, and we want to ensure that we hold elected officials accountable for bettering our lives and our future.”

KABC 7 reported between 2017 and 2023, there were 263 reported homicides of transgender people in the U.S., according to the organization. A gun was used in 193 of them.

In California, there were 14 homicides of transgender people reported between 2018 and 2024 so far, and 37% were in Los Angeles.

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Los Angeles

LAPD monitoring threats against TransLatin@ Coalition

“These acts of violence underscore the urgent need for comprehensive measures to protect and uplift the most vulnerable among us”

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Los Angeles Police Department vehicles responding to a call for service. (Los Angeles Blade/LAPD file photo)

LOS ANGELES – In a concerning escalation of threats against LGBTQIA+ organizations throughout the country, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) confirmed that a bomb threat was called in to the department on March 28, aimed at the TransLatin@ Coalition (TLC), a vanguard organization for Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming, and Intersex (TGI) Latinx communities.

The threat, specifying April 15 as the target date, has prompted an immediate and ongoing response from local authorities to ensure the safety of those at the coalition’s facilities. The LAPD has since been closely monitoring the site. 

This recent threat comes at a time when the TLC, alongside other organizations within the LGBTQIA+ community, faces increasing hostility, underscored by a series of bomb threats and hate mail aimed at destabilizing the work and well-being of TGI Latinx individuals.

In response to the threat, Bamby Salcedo, the President and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition has amplified security measures at TLC and reinforced the importance of emergency preparedness among the staff, emphasizing the coalition’s dedication to fostering a secure and supportive environment despite the daunting challenges posed by such threats.

The bomb threats have been accompanied by hate mail, filled with vitriolic anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and attacks on the Democratic Party, aimed at undermining the coalition’s mission and intimidating its leadership, including Salcedo and Vice President/COO Maria Roman Taylorson.

Despite these attempts to sow fear, the TransLatin@ Coalition stands firm in its mission. “We refuse to be silenced or intimidated,” Salcedo said.

The organization continues to call for unity and action, urging the public to stand in solidarity with TGI communities, report threats or violence, and advocate for greater acceptance and understanding of TGI identities.

The coalition’s commitment to the rights, empowerment, and well-being of TGI Latinx individuals in the United States remains unwavering. Through advocacy, education, and community organizing, the TLC addresses the unique challenges and systemic injustices faced by this community, emphasizing the intersectionality of race and economic status.

As the TLC navigates through these trying times, they have also taken to social media to call for support and positivity, highlighting the unexpected financial strain of heightened security measures. 

This recent threat against the TLC occurs amidst a broader climate of heightened animosity towards the LGBTQIA+ community, as reported by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The HRC’s documentation of fatal violence against transgender and gender-expansive individuals in 2024 alone paints a grim picture of the dangers faced by the community.

“These acts of violence and discrimination underscore the urgent need for comprehensive measures to protect and uplift the most vulnerable among us,” HRC noted.

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Los Angeles

Suspects break into home of Real Friends of WeHo’s Joey Zauzig

Reports indicate that a resident in the area contacted the LAPD while the burglary was in progress at a residence on Marmont Lane

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Joey-Zauzig (Screenshot/YouTube Instagram)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – An attempted robbery unfolded in the Hollywood Hills early Monday morning at the residence of television personality and influencer Joey Zauzig, known for his role in “The Real Friends of WeHo.”

“Last night at around 12am, 3 men, armed with face masks broke into our house while we were sleeping,” Zauzig posted in an Instagram story. “I woke up to it and triggered the alarm as they shattered one of the glass doors. We are ok and the dogs are safe… thank god they were at training camp.”

Zauzig added that it was truly one of the scariest things that has ever happened to him. “Seeing the footage on our cameras and waking up to it,” he said. “I’m still very much in shock. Please be careful always set your alarms”

He later posted video footage of the three suspects creeping into their home and a screen grab of the vehicle believed to be the getaway car.

Joey Zauzig Instagram screen grab

“I thank you guys so much for all the messages and the love,” he posted in an update. “I’m just wondering when I’m gonna feel back to normal because I definitely don’t and a lot of messages are unfortunately from people that have gone through the same thing.”

He said that he’s getting a lot of recommendations for therapy, but all he hopes to do is to get back to normal. “Last night got zero sleep,” he said. “I had the worst nightmares…this is so f*cked up, but now I’m like at a point where I’m just like angrJoey Zauzigy and now I really want to share this to like, catch these people and it’s the worst feeling ever.”

Earlier posts on Instagram show Zauzig enjoying the sun in a Cabo trip, and indication that he was out of town.

Reports indicate that a resident in the area contacted the police while the burglary was in progress at a residence on Marmont Lane in Hollywood Hills just after midnight on April 8, 2024.

The Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson informed KTLA 5 that the burglary occurred shortly after midnight on Marmont Lane. The suspects, described as three individuals—one wearing a black shirt, one in a blue hoodie, and the third in all black—had fled the scene before law enforcement arrived, LAPD stated.

The Real Friends of WeHo reality series premiered on MTV, on January 20, 2023. The show follows the lives of six LGBTQ+ celebrities, personalities, and entrepreneurs living in West Hollywood, feature Brad Goreski, a celebrity stylist; Todrick Hall, a choreographer and singer; Curtis Hamilton, an actor; Dorión Renaud, CEO of Buttah Skincare; Jaymes Vaughan, a TV host and business owner; and Joey Zauzig, who was described at the time as a digital entrepreneur. The show was not picked up for a second season.

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Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist.

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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Los Angeles

LA’s chief financial officer says the city has big financial problems

Projected deficits for years to come will force wrenching choices that threaten the vital services Angelenos rely on

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LA City Controller Kenneth Mejia. (Screenshot/YouTube)

LOS ANGELES – The City is under going an audit of finances and spending on Mayor Karen Bass and the city’s Inside Safe program after the LA Alliance for Human Rights and a federal judge expressed frustration over the management of funds to tackle homelessness through that and other services programs.

LA City Controller Kenneth Mejia however, is raising alarms over what he says is a serious budget deficit that is creating greater financial issues for the City. “It’s fair to say that the city of L.A. should be worried about our financial health. It’s not looking good and the people of Los Angeles will suffer based on decisions that City Hall makes,” Mejia told KABC 7.

According to Mejia, Los Angeles has a projected budget deficit of $476 million dollars, which is made up of $289 million in overspending and $187 million in less than expected revenues. The overspending occurred in three departments: police and fire – mainly because of staffing issues and overtime – and in liability claims.

“We’re not in a recession. This is not COVID. This is a budget deficit that we made here in City Hall,” said Mejia.

The City Controller in a statement when his office released the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR) in January said: “It is my responsibility to report the bad news: this year the City is spending well beyond our actual revenues. Projected deficits for years to come will force wrenching choices that threaten the vital services Angelenos rely on. This is not the result of a sudden economic downturn, but the culmination of years of short-term budget balancing at the cost of long-term fiscal sustainability.”

Mejia also pointed out that “despite widespread staff vacancies, General Fund departmental spending actually exceeded last year’s adopted budget by nearly $200 million. Had the vacancy rate been closer to normal, the budget would have been in the red.

As our Office has consistently pointed out, citywide deferred maintenance of vital infrastructure requires urgent attention. Last year’s underspending of $316 million in budgeted capital expenditures underscores that the City continues to fall behind – which means even higher costs in the long run.

Again, as we have warned, current staff shortages and long-term underinvestment in the training, technology, equipment and facilities for our workforce hobbles productivity and shortchanges our residents. The homelessness crisis and the reality of a changing climate put even further strain on City resources.”

Mejia told KABC 7 he’s against eliminating 2,000 vacant positions to save money.

“It’s not like these positions have been vacant for many years. They haven’t. All these departments have been trying to fill these positions. A few months ago, we were talking about ‘We need to fill these vacant positions. Come on, join the city.’ And now, we’re like ‘Oh wait. We need to hold back because we’re overspending on police, liability claims, on fire.’ Now, we have to cut other positions in other departments in order to cover that overspending,” said Mejia.

He also warned that without a long-term approach to “putting our fiscal house in order, short-term decisions will doom Los Angeles to an inexorable decline in public services, undermining our quality of life and the economic prospects of our residents.”

In a statement provided to KABC 7 and the Blade, the mayor’s office said they remain “focused on the work that has resulted in thousands more Angelenos coming inside last year than the previous year, a record number of LAPD applications, and finalizing a budget in partnership with our city department heads that will be balanced and protect services for Angelenos.”

The deadline for Mayor Bass to release her budget for next year is April 22.

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Los Angeles

900 Los Angeles homeless deaths in 2023- 23% lower than 2022

Across all of LA County, there was a total of 1,467 deaths of homeless people in 2023. The City’s 900 deaths make up 61% of County deaths

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A homeless man sleeps in front of Grand Park along Grand Avenue. (Photo Credit: Mayra Vasquez/Los Angeles County )

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles City Controller Kenneth Mejia released a new report Thursday that showed that 900 people died while experiencing homelessness within the City’s boundaries in 2023. According to the data, this was down nearly 23% from the previous year’s total of 1,167.

Mejia noted that “any number of unhoused deaths is unacceptable.” The City Controller’s Office also released a map of unhoused deaths in 2023 using data obtained from the Los Angeles County Medical-Examiner Coroner’s office.

Mejia stated “We made this map to bring visibility to the hundreds of deaths suffered by unhoused people in the City of LA that otherwise happen quietly with little attention.”

2023 map and analysis: http://unhouseddeaths2023.lacontroller.app

In response to Mejia’s report, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass issued the following statement Thursday: “Every death that occurs is a tragedy and we express our condolences to those friends, family and community members who have lost a loved one due to this crisis.”

Bass added, “The focus of our work has been to take urgent action to save lives and while the controller’s data released today indicates a decrease in deaths, we know that there is still much more work to be done.”

The data from the report showed that about 678 deaths or 75% were categorized as accidental, while 160 (or 18%) of deaths were natural, 16 (or 2%) were suicide and 6 (or 1%) were undetermined. The report further detailed that about 40, or 4%, homeless people were the victims of homicide in 2023, accounting for 12% of all murders in the city.

The data on homicides noted the fact that the homeless population makes up roughly 1% of the city’s total population yet accounted for 12% of all homicides in the city.

Racial disparity was also a major point the report noting that while Blacks are only 8% of the City’s population, as a group they accounted for 33% of the total homeless population and 31% of the total number of deaths in 2023. About 274 (or 30%) of white homeless people died in 2023, and 289 (or 32%) of Hispanic/Latino homeless died in 2023.

 

Additionally, at least 338 (or 73%) of deaths were in streets or areas without proper utilities, such as tents, parking lots, parks, RVs and vacant buildings, according to the Controller’s analysis.

Also according to the Controller’s analysis January, February and March were the most deadly months for homeless people in 2023.

City Council Districts with the highest numbers of deaths of homeless in 2023 were 1 and 14 encompassing the downtown, north, northeast areas. District 14 had 269 deaths, accounting for 29.9% of unhoused deaths in 2023, followed by 105 deaths or 11.7% in District 1, and 77 or 8.6% of deaths in District 13 in the Hollywood area.

In the 2022 Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority survey, the highest numbers of people experiencing homeless were in City Council Districts 14, 9 and 1, followed by Districts 6 and 13.

Nearly 70% of deaths were suffered by people ages 31-60. Ages 51-60 had the highest death rate.

Across all of Los Angeles County, there was a total of 1,467 deaths of homeless people in 2023. The City of LA’s 900 homeless deaths make up 61% of County deaths.

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