Who’s COVID Killing? Santa Clara County Offers Most Detailed Look Yet at Coronavirus Deaths

More than 75 percent of Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 deaths involved breathing complications and inflamed, fluid-filled lungs. More than half of decedents suffered from underlying health problems, such as high blood pressure. Forty percent had diabetes.

Statistics about the county’s first 139 confirmed COVID-19 casualties emerged earlier this week in a report that offers the Bay Area’s most detailed picture to date of who’s dying from the virus and how, exactly, it tore through their bodies. (There has been one additional COVID-19 death since the log was published).

The list unveiled before Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting notes the age, gender, race, home ZIP code and pre-existing health issues of everyone felled by the virus since the county’s first known COVID-19 death on Feb. 6.

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surges past 2.2 million worldwide and 2,700 in the South Bay, it’s becoming clear that, although lungs are ground zero, the disease can ravage a whole host of organs—the heart, kidneys, gut and brain.

Aside from pneumonia and acute pulmonary distress, other common fatal complications in the scores of local cases included renal failure and heart attack. Other prevalent pre-existing conditions included congestive heart failure, kidney disease and clogged arteries.

Officials say 16 (just 12 percent) of the county’s COVID-19 decedents—all between 54 and 82 years old—had no apparent underlying health problems. A 37-year-old man with several health problems marked the youngest fatality. Three were over the age of 100.

The list affirmed another growing realization about the virus: that it’s not the great equalizer many initially said it was. Upward of 40 percent of the county’s COVID-19 deaths trace back to four ZIP codes in San Jose’s mostly Latino and Asian East Side.

Local health officials said they plan to make the death stats part of the county’s regularly updated coronavirus dashboard. To see the latest available data, click here.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. The chart makes it clear that locking everyone down and destroying the economy over a virus that is only a real threat to a small percentage of the population was a disastrous decision. The focus should have been on the most vulnerable.

    • We have to evaluate why certain people got the disease. Is it possible that perhaps these zipcodes have a high percentage of essential workers? Is there some other reason that certain neighborhoods were harder hit? What would have happened if we didn’t shut down? I don’t know what would have happened, but more people would have gotten sick and therefore more people would have died.

  2. SCCPHD has a website called Deaths from all causes:

    The most recent data is from 2016, per 100,000 people:
    Santa Clara County 593.8
    Male 722.3
    Female 492.6
    African American 981.9
    Asian/Pacific Islander 504.9
    Latino 654.4
    White 607.6
    (If one person died per hour out of 2 million, that would be 24*365/20 = 438 per year per 100,000.)

    Males are nearly 50% more likely to die than females. Males die at a higher rate than any race except African Americans. Females die at a lower rate than any race.

    Death rates by age group are even more stark. Life itself is increasingly deadly as people get older.

  3. the figures i think would be interesting should be how many deaths – With Covid19 and how many deaths – Due to Covid19. ~ ~ ~ ~an elderly person w/ TB or stage 4 cancer may become infected w/ Covid 19 the last week of life — – did the Covid 19 kill the person – – or – – did the person die anyway and just happen to have Covid?

    since Hospitals are postponing many surgeries etc due to Covid – they are losing $ they would normally get – – there are some reports that many deaths are listed as Covid – because Fed money reimburses extra for that.

    there are other figures i would like a good investigative reporter to dig up.

    Every year there are 45-65000 deaths due to the flu AND we have a vaccine for the flu. eventually we will have a vaccine for Codid19 – BUT it won’t be 100% effective. so how many deaths should we expect when we get a Covid vaccine? Will it be something like the annual flu rate? If so – – how to justify this shutdown?

    Is there something going on here?

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