Category Archives: Coronavirus

Who’s dying in California from COVID-19?

Who’s dying in California from COVID-19?

Cal Matters, by Hannah Getahun, September 22, 2021
Emergency medical workers lift a patient onto a gurney in Placentia in January. The average age of people dying from COVID-19 in California has been declining in recent months. Photo by Jae C. Hong, AP Photo

IN SUMMARY…
California’s COVID-19 deaths are skewing younger, with the average age dropping seven years in September. And death rates are increasing for most racial groups, particularly Latinos. A by-the-numbers look at California’s COVID-19 deaths.

It’s been longer than a year and a half since COVID-19 first arrived in California, and the demographics of who is dying from the virus are changing.

So far, 67,628 people have died in California during the pandemic, more than in any other state. In recent months, those who are dying are younger on average. And, unsurprisingly, people of color are still among the most devastated by COVID-19, with the highest death rates among Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders and Black people.

Here’s a by-the-numbers look at COVID-19 deaths in California.

How much younger are they?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the average age for Californians who died from COVID-19 is 73. But in April through September the average age dropped to 67, and in August and September, it dropped to 66, according to a California Department of Public Health analysis of state data.

“We are observing that it’s not the older populations that were first dominating a number of fatalities in the pandemic,” said Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra. “It’s now skewing younger and younger in terms of who gets hospitalized and — unfortunately — who goes on to have a very tragic outcome of a fatality.”

A major reason? Older people are vaccinated at higher rates than younger residents. About 67% of Californians 18 to 49 are fully vaccinated, compared to 73% for people 65 and older.

Hospitalizations and infections are on the rise for Californians under 18. But old age — and the underlying conditions that come with it — will still be an important factor in death rates, said Dr. George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.

What’s the racial breakdown? Has it changed?

Latinos are dying at a lower rate than white and Black people in California, according to the state’s data. However, Latinos have had the sharpest increase in the death rate in the last month, rising from 2.4 deaths per 100,000 people in August to 4 per 100,000 in September. That rate, however, is far eclipsed by the peak last January, when 11 Latinos died per 100,000.

For Black people, 7.4 per 100,000 people died from COVID-19 this month, up from six deaths per 100,000 in August yet down from 9.3 last January. Death rates in Asian American populations and white people also increased this monthAsian Americans currently have California’s second lowest death rate.

The culprit is most likely vaccine disparities: Latinos make up 39.4% of California’s vaccine eligible population but they’ve only received 29.5% of the doses. This means that, proportionally, not as many doses are finding their way into Latino communities as they should, health experts say. Black people also make up a higher share of the vaccine-eligible population than the doses they have received.

“The myths and the misgivings… are real for the communities who have suffered at the hands, historically, of a racist, systemic problem.”  – SARAH REYES, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS AT THE CALIFORNIA ENDOWMENT

A reason for these disparities could be the barriers that communities of color still face to accessing vaccines, including medical misinformation and hesitancy stemming from medical mistrust, according to Sarah Reyes, managing director of communications at the nonprofit California Endowment, which focuses on improving health care access in underserved communities.

“People have to understand that the myths and the misgivings of the medical community are real,” Reyes said. “They’re real for the communities who have suffered at the hands, historically, of a racist, systemic problem.”

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders have died at the highest rate of any racial group. But some good news: The rate decreased from 18.4 deaths per 100,000 people in January to 17 in August and 11.8 in September.

Is there a growing gender gap?

Men are dying at a slightly higher rate than they were in the beginning of the pandemic, according to the state data.

In September of last year, 45.2% of deaths were female and 54.6% were male. But in August 2021, it was 41% female and 58.9% male, which shows that the gap is widening in favor of women.

In Long Beach, 70% of deaths since July 2021 have been males, compared to 58% from March 2020 through July 2021.

Before vaccine availability, males made up a slightly larger percentage of deaths than females. Now as the gap widens, vaccinations may play a role.

“I can’t help to think that some of that is due to failure to vaccinate — differential failure to vaccinate, meaning that women are more likely to vaccinate than men,” Rutherford said.

Women are more likely to be vaccinated than men in the state, and there is still a slight gap between the proportion of men who make up the state’s vaccine population and those who still need to get vaccinated.

How do deaths in California compare to other states?

California, as of this past week, has the lowest seven-day death rate nationally — at five people dying for every million residents — and the lowest rate since January, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, what is happening in California is happening across the country: People 64 and under make up a larger share of deaths in 2021 than they did in 2020. National data also shows that the older you are, the more likely you are to be vaccinated.

How do counties compare?

The average age of Californians dying from COVID is skewing younger across the state.

In Fresno County, people 50 to 69 years old now make up a larger share of COVID-19 deaths than they previously did, while those 70 and older are a smaller share.

In Long Beach, which has its own health department, the average age of COVID death since August 2021 is 59 years old, 13 years younger than March 2020 through July 2021. In Long Beach, 99% of people 65 and older are vaccinated.

In Riverside County, people under 45 made up 4.1% of total deaths between Jan. and March. Between June and Aug., that number jumped to 16.1%. Among adults, people under 45 have the lowest vaccination rates.

Eleven people died in Riverside County on Sept. 20 and five of those people were under 40, said Jose Arballo, senior public information specialist at Riverside University Health System-Public Health.

Were most of the people who died unvaccinated?

Vaccinated people make up a small fraction of the deaths — approximately 500. “Far and away without any doubt, without any question, 95% of (stopping deaths) is vaccines,” Rutherford said.

Although there’s still the potential for breakthrough cases, vaccination makes it much less likely that serious illness will develop.

So if the best way to prevent deaths is the vaccine, how do health officials get younger people to get the jab? It’s complicated, but mandates — like proof of vaccination to go to restaurants or work in certain places — can help, Rutherford said. Fear can be a motivator, too.

“People are scared of the Delta variant — as they should be,” Rutherford said.

Solano COVID report: 6 new deaths Monday, 3 more today, and 141 previously unreported hospitalizations

By Roger Straw, Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Wednesday, September 22: Solano County reports 3 more deaths, 212 new infections and 141 additional hospitalizations

Solano County COVID dashboard SUMMARY:
[Sources: see below.]

DEATHS: 3 new deaths todayTotal Solano deaths over the course of the pandemic now at 290.  Solano Health Officer Dr.  Bela Matyas recently noted a surprising 24% of deaths during the recent Solano surge were vaccinated individuals.  It seems a clear signal for those of us who have been vaccinated to continue to wear masks and steer clear of close aerosol contact with unknown others.  Total deaths by age and race/ethnicity:

CASES: The County reported  212 new COVID cases since Monday, 106 per day, back up to last weeks average of 105 per day and still in the range of last winter’s surge.

COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION RATE: Over the last 7 days, Solano has seen 599 new cases, 2.7 TIMES the CDC’s population-based definition of a SUBSTANTIAL rate of transmission and 1.3 TIMES the CDC’s definition of a HIGH rate of transmission.

(CDC FORMULA: Based on Solano County population of 449,432, the CDC would rate us in “SUBSTANTIAL” transmission with 225 cases over the last 7 days.  Double that, or 450 cases in the last 7 days would rank us in “HIGH” transmission.  Reference: CDC’s “Level of SARS-CoV-2 Community Transmission”.]

ACTIVE CASES: Solano’s 649 ACTIVE cases is up from Monday’s 627, and far surpassing our summer rates.

POSITIVE TEST RATE:  Our 7-day average percent positivity rate was 8.2% today, up from 7.6% on Monday.  COMPARE: today’s California rate is 1.9%.  Today’s U.S. rate is 8.0%[Source: Johns Hopkins]

HOSPITALIZATIONS:

CURRENT hospitalizations were down today from 81 to 74 persons, but still in the range we saw during the winter surge.

ICU Bed Availability took another big hit today, falling from 23% to only 18%, still in the yellow danger zone.  Again, we are in the worrisome range we saw during the winter surge.

Ventilator Availability went down today from 57% to only 48%, still in the range of last February’s winter surge.

TOTAL hospitalizations  Solano County’s TOTAL hospitalized over the course of the pandemic must be independently discovered in the County’s occasional update of hospitalizations by Age Group and by Race/Ethnicity.  The County reported a MAJOR UPDATE on its Hospitalizations charts today, adding 141 previously unreported hospitalizations.  See below.  The race/ethnicity numbers indicate a number of persons whose race/ethnicity was not given or recorded.

FACE MASKS… Good News in Benicia and Vallejo

GOOD NEWS! Benicia City Council passed a citywide indoors mask mandate that went into effect on August 24 and includes everyone 4 years old and up when indoors in public places, even those of us who are vaccinated.  Benicia was joined by Vallejo on August 31.  In the Bay Area, Solano County REMAINS the only holdout against a mask mandate for public indoors spaces.

THE SOLANO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS failed to even consider an agendized proposal for a countywide MASK MANDATE last week.  On Tuesday, September 14, the Board’s agenda called for discussion of an indoors mask mandate for all and a vaccination mandate for county workers.  The Board voted 4-1 to require county-run facilities in Vallejo and Benicia to abide by local mandates.  But the Board voted down the vaccination mandate 3-2, and failed to even consider the county-wide mask mandate.  The Solano Board of Supervisors now joins with Dr. Bela Matyas in officially showing poor leadership on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cases by City on Wednesday, September 22:
  • Benicia added 10 new cases today, a total of 1,408 cases since the outbreak began.  Benicia has seen 30 new cases over the last 7 days, just above the CDC’s definition of HIGH community transmission (defined as 28 cases, based on Benicia population).  [Note that Solano County is also rated far above high transmission, and Solano’s 6 other cities are likely also individually experiencing high or substantial transmission.]
  • Dixon added 17 new cases today, total of 2,442 cases.
  • Fairfield added 64 new cases today, total of 11,776 cases.
  • Rio Vista added 3 new cases today, total of 559 cases.
  • Suisun City added 19 new cases today, total of 3,101 cases.
  • Vacaville added 40 new cases today, a total of 11,542 cases.
  • Vallejo added 58 new cases today, a total of 12,828 cases.
  • Unincorporated added 1 new case today, a total of 137 cases (population figures not available).

Continue reading Solano COVID report: 6 new deaths Monday, 3 more today, and 141 previously unreported hospitalizations

Detailed information about Solano vaccinations – by race, age, gender and city

By Roger Straw, September 22, 2021

The Solano County COVID-19 Dashboard includes two separate tabs showing detailed data on vaccines.  I’ll post screenshots here, but the Dashboard shows more detail and has background notes on each bit of data.

Vaccines Summary
Click image to enlarge.

First is the Vaccines Summary tab.  Only 65% of eligible Solano residents have been fully vaccinated, lowest in the Bay Area.  It is surprising to me that the County has set a target goal of only 240,000 eligible residents, under 65%.  We are at 100% of our goal even though we’ve only fully vaccinated 65%?  That’s not right!  (It is good, however, that the County projects another 1,000 vaccinations in the next 7 days.)

Vaccines – Demographics
Click image to enlarge.

Second, the Vaccines Demographics tab tracks residents who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.  Very interesting!  See below for individual screenshots of charts from the Vaccines Demographics tab.

Vaccines by Race (at least one dose)
Click on image to enlarge
Vaccines by Age (at least one dose)
Click on image to enlarge
Vaccines by Gender (at least one dose)
Click on image to enlarge
Vaccines by City (at least one dose)
Click on image to enlarge

Solano County has lowest vaccination rate in Bay Area

Marin County is approaching 100% of eligible residents with one COVID vaccine dose

San Francisco Chronicle, by Kellie Hwang, Sep. 20, 2021

Kristina Skierka of Lucas Valley makes an appointment for her second COVID-19 vaccine with Jackson Murphy at the drive-through vaccination location at Larkspur Ferry Terminal in Marin County in April. Lea Suzuki/The Chronicle

Marin County has marked a new pandemic-fighting milestone, with more than 90% of its eligible population now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to county data, 90.7% of residents 12 and older were fully vaccinated as of Monday. A whopping 97.3% of Marin’s eligible population has received at least one vaccine dose.

Among its total population, Marin’s rate of completed vaccinations is 78%, with 84% partially vaccinated. Marin has the highest overall vaccination rate of all counties in California and is among the top 10 most highly vaccinated counties in the U.S.

The county this weekend tweeted about surpassing the 90% milestone for vaccinations among those eligible, thanking residents “for choosing to be vaccinated for the health of our community,”

Marin County health officer Matt Willis said that means the community is “better protected,” which is measured by “lives saved.”

“It’s gratifying to see the impact,” he said. “There is a clear correlation between communities with high vaccination rates and low case rates.”

Marin’s average daily cases over the past week is just over 10 per 100,000 residents — the lowest figure in the Bay Area and less than half of the figure in California, the state with the lowest case rate in the nation.

Willis said a number of benefits and privileges in Marin County have helped it achieve high vaccination rates, driven by a “strong belief in science” and “strong demand for vaccines.” Willis said the county is a more highly educated, higher-income community, and is also older, with a median age of 47.3, the highest in the Bay Area.

With data showing disparities in vaccination rates broken down along political lines in the U.S. — with rates lower for Republicans than for Democrats — he noted that the county is liberal-leaning, with 61% identifying as Democrats and 13% as Republicans.

Willis also attributed Marin’s vaccination success to the tight-knit nature of the county, contributions from both the public and private sectors, and the county emergency operations center’s coordination efforts.

The Bay Area in general has boasted high vaccination rates, especially when compared to the rest of the state and country. According to the Los Angeles Times vaccine tracker, the Bay Area’s counties with the exception of  Solano  are at the top of the rankings for vaccination rates statewide.

San Mateo County has the next highest vaccination rate after Marin, with 84% of the eligible population fully vaccinated.  Solano  County has the lowest vaccination rate in the Bay Area, with 65% of eligible residents fully vaccinated.

[BenIndy editor: See also detailed data on Solano County vaccines as of 9/20/21 from the Solano County COVID-19 Dashboard.  The “Vaccines – Demographics” tab shows data by race, age, gender and city.  – R.S.]

Marin County data by age category shows the highest vaccination rate is in the 65 and older group with 93% of eligible residents fully vaccinated. The next highest age group is 18- to 34-year-olds at 88%, while the least vaccinated age group is 12- to 17-year-olds at 82%.

According to the U.S. Census, 46% of Marin County residents are 50 or older, 32% is 20 to 49, and 23% is 0 to 19. By comparison, in  Solano , the Bay Area’s lowest vaccinated county, 36% of residents are 50 or older, 40% are 20 to 49, and 25% are 0 to 19.

County data shows that among racial and ethnic groups in Marin, Asians have the highest rate at 89% of eligible residents fully vaccinated, followed by Hispanic or Latino residents at 86% and white residents at 83%. Black and African American residents are the lowest vaccinated group in the county at 78%. (The county notes that these percentages may be underreported by five to 10 percentage points because of missing race and ethnicity data in state vaccination records.)

Willis said similar to many places across the country, “Some members of historically marginalized groups have well-founded reasons to mistrust what they might see as a medical establishment,” especially in the county’s Black and African American communities, which Willis said is “not something that can be solved overnight.”

Mercedes Morgan of Performing Stars helps assemble care packages that will be delivered to COVID-positive residents in public housing in Marin City in July. Performing Stars has helped with COVID vaccination outreach efforts in Marin County. Alvin A.H. Jornada/Special to The Chronicle

But the strong overall demand for vaccines allowed the county to focus its outreach on marginalized groups, Willis said, by working with trusted leaders in the Black and African American communities, particularly in Marin City and Novato. He said the effort, which has included deploying mobile teams there, has resulted in a recent increase in vaccinations.

Willis also said the county has had a “reputation of being a bastion of anti-vaccine sentiment historically,” that is a “small but very vocal group” of mostly affluent white residents.

“Our strategy is really not to waste too much time trying to fight that battle with people who have basically made that decision decades ago as part of a fixed belief,” he said. “Despite the fact they may be vocal, they are a relatively small subset of the population and our numbers show that.”

He said at this point he is “fairly confident” that those who are not vaccinated are “by choice and not for lack of opportunity,” and believes the county did what it could to “remove any barriers related to geography or access.”

Kellie Hwang is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.