First Public Report on Orange County COVID-19 Deaths by City
By John Earl
Surf City Voice
Note: click here for an update on the fatality counts by city, plus fatality counts in skill nursing facilities by city.
Today, Orange County health officials publicly released COVID-19 fatality counts by city for the first time in response to a public records request by the Surf City Voice.
COVID-19 death counts by city will remain off of the County’s official website pending the results of an upcoming meeting between health officials, the County Counsel’s office, and the County Privacy office, according to Michael Carson, Division Manager for Clinical Services, who responded to the SCV by email.
Twenty-four out of 34 Orange County cities reported COVID-19 deaths. Santa Ana, Anaheim, and Huntington Beach, in that order, ranked as the top three cities for COVID-19 death counts out of a total of 165 deaths for the entire county as of June 4.
- Santa Ana (pop. 330,389) : 38
- Anaheim (pop. 352,911): 33
- Huntington Beach (pop. 201,941): 21
Twenty-one other Orange County cities all reported deaths in single digits. The next highest reporting group includes Garden Grove (9 deaths), Los Alamitos (9 deaths), and Fullerton (8 deaths). All other cities reported five or fewer deaths, including Irvine (4 deaths), the third most populated (303,956) city in the county.
Concerns about privacy violations prevented previous publication of the statistics, Carson said.
“With a limited number of COVID-19 deaths, there was a concern of being able to identify an individual if a death was reported in smaller population cities or unincorporated areas,” he said. “Now that we are approaching 200 deaths [county wide], that decision is being reconsidered.”
Carson made no inferences about the limited information provided and cautioned that “It should be noted that death of a resident in a specific city doesn’t not meant that infection with novel coronavirus occurred in that city.”
Today’s (June 5) Orange County COVID-19 total death count is 174, nine of which were reported today.
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A person has no legal right to privacy when they’re dead. The public needs to know public health risks. Otherwise, we might as well redact tombstones.