social determinants of health

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 1,300 people have died of COVID-19 in the seven counties of the southern San Joaquin Valley and foothills, according to official counts by county health departments and the state. The tallies aggregated in those health department dashboards, which represent between one and two percent of all who’ve tested positive for the virus, capture those who were confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 and whose death certificates listed the virus as a primary cause of death.

 

Fresno County Department of Public Health

 

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?

If you’re a regular Valley Public Radio listener, you probably already know that your health depends a lot on where you live. But just 10 years ago, that field of research was still emerging.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

A national ranking system has for years given Fresno County’s health a failing grade. At the county’s inaugural “state of the health” breakfast on Friday, health leaders vowed to change that.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Scientific research has demonstrated that, in general, the richer a person is, the healthier he or she is likely to be. Likewise, those with private insurance tend to be healthier than those on Medi-Cal. A new study, however, suggests neighborhood-level poverty may be even more important.

If you’re a child on Medi-Cal, you’re worse off living in a poor community than an affluent one. That is one of the findings in a new study out this week in the research publication Journal of Asthma.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

A few weeks ago, we reported that the premature birth rate in the San Joaquin Valley is rising, and that it’s especially high in Fresno County. The numbers are concerning because premature babies are born with a higher risk of health complications like breathing difficulties, heart problems and chronic disease. Decades of work have proven preterm births are tough to prevent, but a new research initiative appears to be up for the challenge. This story begins, though, in a Fresno living room, where a mother and son enjoy some quiet time together.