The number of deaths in Santa Clara County increased by 20% in March

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As the new coronavirus spread to the Bay Area and across California last month, deaths in Santa Clara County have increased significantly from the same month a year earlier, adding to the fear that the virus toll is more widespread here than initially thought.

New data published by this news agency shows that deaths recorded by the Santa Clara County medical examiner increased by 20% in March compared to March 2019 – an increase that includes a 17% increase in the number of deaths home. Overall, COVID-19 was listed as the cause of death or significant condition for 32 people who died in the county in March, which is the count reported by the public health unit at the time.

Santa Clara County Director Jeffrey Smith said the increase in deaths could be even higher and include more deaths from COVID-19 than previously known.

The county public health department said on Tuesday that the first recorded coronavirus death occurred on February 6 – three weeks earlier than what was thought to be the first American death in Washington State on 28 February. The county also revealed two additional deaths from coronavirus, February 17 and March 6, which were before the first death reported publicly on March 9. The three died at home and were posthumously tested for the virus.

“We know that the virus has dramatic effects. It’s not the kind of virus that’s waiting, some people died within days of being diagnosed, ”said Smith. “It is a much more dangerous virus than what we initially recognized. “

The medical examiner’s March figures – which include deaths related to COVID-19 and also to other major causes such as accidents, heart disease, cancer and diabetes – are just a snapshot of the whole deaths in the county during the pandemic. . Experts said the death toll in the county deserves further study and may suggest that the number of deaths from coronavirus is underestimated, either because the number of people tested is insufficient, or because fear of the virus scares the sick in hospitals.

“April could be different or February could be very different. It is important to raise the issue, ”said John Swartzberg, clinical professor emeritus of infectious diseases and vaccinology at UC Berkeley. “It will be interesting to see if that turns out to be the case. “

Santa Clara County reported 1,948 confirmed coronavirus cases and 88 coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday, accounting for about 40% of the total number of deaths in the Bay Area.

Santa Clara County supervisor Dave Cortese said he was “disappointed that the coroner had not informed the board of supervisors of this increasing trend.” In a statement released Wednesday, he said an increase of 20 to 25 percent translated into hundreds of additional deaths in the county, “most of which appear to be due to infectious disease.”

“Not only do we need absolute transparency, but we need a reconstruction of this data and analysis so that the data on our dashboards reflects the real impact of this disease,” said Cortese.

Last week, New York City dramatically increased its COVID-19 toll by adding more than 3,700 suspected victims who died from the virus but never tested positive. The revised death toll has brought the number of people killed in the city to over 10,000 and increased the national number by 17%. New Yorkers are now dying four times the usual daily amount for this time of year, according to a report by the New York Times released Tuesday.

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