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January 20, 2021

Santa Clara County: Covid-19 is third leading cause of death

Virus fatalities are behind only cancer and heart disease

With at least 632 fatalities attributed to Covid-19 so far in 2020, the virus is projected to be the third leading cause of death in Santa Clara County this year, according to public health officials.

“Tragically, these are 632 families who are grieving this holiday season,” Cindy Chavez, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, said Dec. 23. “Let’s not forget the countless others who have loved ones in the hospital, and the healthcare workers trying to keep them alive as we speak. A simple family meal may seem harmless until it is too late. Please protect the ones you love by staying home and staying safe.”

Covid-19 deaths as of Dec. 23 lag behind only cancer and heart disease, which are projected to be the top two killers in Santa Clara County this year.

In mid-November—a week before Thanksgiving—an average of three people died per day due to Covid-19, according to county staff. A month later, that average increased to nearly six people per day. The county’s seven-day average positivity rate as of Dec. 13 was 7.7 percent, the highest since the pandemic began in March. That’s compared to 3.4 percent on Nov. 19, one week before Thanksgiving Day, and 1.3 percent on May 27.

County officials released the “grim milestone” as they issued another plea to residents to stay home, and resist the urge to celebrate Christmas Day and the New Year with friends and family. Public health experts worldwide have determined that Covid-19 spreads quickly when individuals gather with others from outside their households.

“This is not the data any of us wanted to share but it is the reality of where we are in this pandemic,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County Health Officer. “The numbers do not lie. We have now seen how Thanksgiving gatherings fueled the spread of the virus and we must slow it down now before it completely overwhelms our health systems. We are nearly at the breaking point.”

Nationwide, the Covid-19 pandemic has taken 325,358 American lives, according to Johns Hopkins University.

On Dec. 22, the Associated Press reported that 2020 is on track to see more deaths than any year in U.S. history. Deaths nationwide—from all causes—are expected to top 3 million for the first time. In 2019, total U.S. deaths numbered about 2.85 million, according to the AP report, which cites data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After the official tally of deaths in 2020 is counted in the coming months, the number could amount to a 15 percent increase in fatalities from 2019. 

Worldwide, Covid-19 has killed or contributed to the deaths of 1,726,329 people, according to Johns Hopkins University.

County officials continue to urge residents to wear face coverings when in public and avoid gatherings with people outside their household.  

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