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COVID-19 Stats Continue To Improve, But Death Data Tell A Darker Story – Virus Update For Oct. 2

Fresno County Department of Public Health
Of the 380 COVID-19-related fatalities analyzed by Fresno County, 61 percent were among the Hispanic community, even though Hispanics make up only 54 percent of the county's population. It's a trend seen within excess deaths in many Valley counties.


When we seek to quantify the toll that COVID-19 is taking on our communities, we typically turn to official statistics like confirmed cases, hospitalization rates and, of course, death counts. But what if that final tally is an undercount, and the death toll is really much higher?

An FM89 analysis found that thousands more Californians have died so far in 2020 than in previous years, and that the official COVID-19 tally of fatalities only accounts for some of those deaths. What’s more, these excess deaths occurred at a higher rate in the San Joaquin Valley than in the state as a whole, and some communities are suffering these deaths at higher rates than others.

This week’s COVID-19 update explores this data and presents context from Irene Yen, a UC Merced social epidemiologist, and Tania Pacheco-Werner, co-assistant director of the Central Valley Health Policy Institute at Fresno State and a lead on the Fresno County COVID-19 Equity Project.

Here’s a snapshot for Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, and Tulare Counties (note that some numbers may have changed between the interview and publication): 

As of Oct. 1: 

For comparison, as of Sept. 24: 

  • 1,286 deaths out of 96,419 cases
  • 278 people hospitalized and 65 in ICUs
  • In the last week, 65 people succumbed to the disease
  • Average cases reported daily in the last week: 335

You can always find up-to-date information for your county here.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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