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:
- 1,330 deaths out of 98,402 cases
- 269 people hospitalized and 52 in ICUs
- In the last week, 44 people succumbed to the disease
- Average cases reported daily in the last week: 283
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.