Two more Santa Cruz County residents added to COVID-19 death toll

SANTA CRUZ — As of Friday, 230 Santa Cruz County residents have died — at least in part — from their COVID-19 infection since the start of the pandemic.

Health Services Agency Spokesperson Corinne Hyland said that the 229th individual, a woman in her early 70s, had other significant health conditions that contributed to her death. She was fully vaccinated and had received a booster shot.

The 230th individual, a man in his early 50s, had no other underlying conditions that would have contributed to his death. He was unvaccinated.

Both individuals were white north county residents.

From March 2020 forward, more men than women have died after contracting the virus, the county’s coronavirus data dashboard shows. Approximately 20% of these individuals had no serious health issues that would have otherwise killed them. More than half of the deceased were white, with Latinos following behind at 36% of all county deaths.

Nearly half of all who have died as a result of the virus in Santa Cruz County were age 85 or older. Approximately half of them lived in a skilled nursing or residential care facility — congregate homes that reported dozens of deaths prior to the arrival of widespread vaccine availability.

The bigger picture

Since one year ago, Santa Cruz County has experienced around 14,000 COVID-19 cases, 13,000 recoveries, 120 deaths and 340 hospitalizations. Then, the active case count jumped as high as approximately 2,700 cases, Sentinel records show; for the first time since, the county’s active case count is nearing the 2,000 case marker. According to the county data dashboard, the average number of daily new COVID-19 cases in Santa Cruz County in the last 14 days has increased 187%.

It is likely that there is more COVID-19 activity in the Santa Cruz area than the dashboard portrays because of the growing use of at-home, antigen testing. Currently, epidemiologists are focusing on the most accurate metrics they have — hospitalizations and deaths — while calculating their next move to measure community transmission, Deputy Health Officer Dr. David Ghilarducci explained to this newspaper recently. The county’s Health Services Agency (HSA) is actively applying for grants to secure funding for wastewater testing operations, an effort conducted in the past to understand the spread of COVID-19 in the region.

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