Oakland Native Earns Doctorate in Educational Leadership from USC

By Zack Haber

Data from a recent records request shows the Alameda County Coroner’s Office attributed 314 deaths in Oakland to the COVID-19 virus in 2021.

Some studies and reports suggested that available information on total COVID-19 deaths, especially when based on coroners, tends to be undercounted. However, unlike listed data by the Alameda County Public Health Department, the coroner’s office has recorded the race, gender and age of Oaklanders who died from the virus, as well as the dates those deaths occurred.

The coroner’s data shows that black people of all ages, as well as Latinx people under 65, died at a disproportionately high rate relative to their percentage of the population.

Of the 314 total Oakland residents the coroner’s office recorded as having died of COVID-19 in 2021, they listed 106, or about 33.8%, as black. This is a disproportionately high death rate compared to 2020 census data, which counted black people as 23.8% of Oakland’s population.

Using the same two data sets, Latinx people accounted for 88, or about 28% of those deaths, while making up 27% of the population. Whites accounted for 57, or about 18.2% of those deaths, while white people not also listed as Latinx made up about 28.3% of the population.

Asians accounted for 42, or about 13.3% of those deaths while making up 15.5% of the population. A Native American, along with three Pacific Islanders have been listed as having died from COVID-19. Two people were listed as mixed race, while about 6.5% of deaths had no race listed.

As elsewhere in the country and around the world, older people died from COVID-19 in Oakland at a higher rate than younger people in 2021. Oakland residents under the age of 40 accounted for eight, or about 2.5 % of total registered deaths. Residents over the age of 90 accounted for 36, or about 11.5% of the total deaths. People aged 65 and over accounted for 213, or around 67.8% of the total number of deaths.

People under the age of 65 accounted for a total of 101, or about 32.2%, of COVID deaths last year in Oakland. Latinx people accounted for about 45 of those deaths, a disproportionately high figure relative to their share of the population. Blacks accounted for about 31 of those deaths, which is also disproportionately high. Whites accounted for about eight of those deaths. Asians accounted for about five of those deaths.

In mid-April, everyone in California age 16 and older was eligible to make an appointment to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

After that point, COVID deaths in Oakland dropped significantly. From May to December 2021, the coroner recorded 125 COVID deaths in Oakland. In comparison, January and February alone recorded 157 deaths.

While deaths of all races have declined, the proportion of black deaths from COVID compared to the rest of the population has increased. Black people accounted for 57, or about 45.2%, of COVID deaths in 2021 from May to December. Latinx people accounted for 24, or 19.2% of those deaths. White people accounted for 20, or 16% of those deaths. Asians accounted for 12, or 9.6% of those deaths.

Janice G. Ball