How Many People Died of COVID in East Palo Alto?

One of the issues we faced in East Palo Alto during the pandemic was getting accurate and up to date information on COVID deaths in East Palo Alto. My best guess is that somewhere between 50 and 60 people died of COVID in East Palo Alto. As we look back on COVID with the distance of time, it is important to realize that everyone of these deaths were members of our community: neighbors, friends, teachers,  families, spouses, co-workers, and partners.

The San Mateo County Health Department  - East Palo Alto's Health Officer - was less than forthcoming in giving information on this question. I asked this question at a community meeting between SMC Health officials and the City of EPA and received this unforthcoming answer from San Mateo Health:

I am still puzzled why our Health Officer chose to not give out accurate and current information when asked about COVID deaths in East Palo Alto. I suspect that a lot of the rationale was that the absolutely horrible numbers from EPA - death numbers nearly twice as high per capita as Menlo Park -  made them want to keep this information private.

I filed an official records request from the County in 2022 and found out that at least 46 people had died of COVID. Subsequent requests added two more deaths, for a total of 48 by early 2023.  

I asked again for current information on COVID Deaths in EPA and was told that the County is no longer tracking deaths by city. They did, however, provide information on total deaths, age ranges, and ethnicity in San Mateo County.

My conclusion from this is that while we do not have 100% accurate data, it is probable that East Palo Alto has had between 50 and 60 deaths from COVID.  In the 2022 data, EPA had around 5.9% of COVID deaths in the county. If this trend continued, EPA would have around 60 deaths. There are a lot of reasons to think that the number could be lower than 60, but a few to think it could be more than 60.  Without the County of San Mateo keeping accurate records, there is a heavy amount of guesswork in coming up with an estimate.

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