Covid rates much higher per capita in East Palo Alto and North Fair Oaks than other places

By the Daily Post staff

A city-by-city breakdown of Covid cases in the Post’s circulation area shows that the communities suffering the most from the pandemic are East Palo Alto and North Fair Oaks.

Both cities have denser housing — often multiple families living in one home — and less access to health care since residents there are on the lower end of the economic ladder.

Since the populations of the 17 communities in the Post’s circulation area vary, the way to compare them is by calculating the infections per 100,000 residents. That allows for an apples-to-apples comparison.

Using that apples-to-apples comparison, the contrasts are astounding. East Palo Alto has had 9,158 Covid cases per 100,000 compared to 1,265 for Palo Alto.

That’s a ratio of 7 to 1.

On Dec. 23, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, a Palo Alto resident, called into the Palo Alto City Council and urged its members to spend $354,550 on a mobile Covid testing unit that would be used in East Palo Alto.

Council agreed unanimously with the request. The money is from the Community Development Block Grant funds the city gets from the federal government. There’s no rule against Palo Alto using the money to help its neighbor.

Councilman Greg Tanaka wanted to know if the van would benefit Palo Alto’s residents, to which Mayor Adrian Fine replied that because Palo Alto is more affluent, it could afford to help other cities deal with the Covid crisis.

Going back to the Covid statistics, North Fair Oaks, an unincorporated community between Atherton and Redwood City, has had 7,269 cases — nearly twice that of neighboring Redwood City at 2,768.

It should be noted that an infection doesn’t mean the person became sick and was hospitalized. Studies have found that between 20% and 30% of people who test positive for Covid will remain symptom-free over time.

Here’s the city-by-city breakdown as of today (Dec. 31).

Population Infections per 100,000
East Palo Alto 30,499 2,793 9,158
North Fair Oaks 14,666 1,066 7,269
Redwood City 85,319 3,215 3,768
San Mateo 104,570 3,328 3,183
Menlo Park 35,790 976 2,727
Mountain View 80,993 1,740 2,148
Burlingame 30,317 540 1,781
Belmont 27,174 413 1,520
Woodside 5,615 82 1,460
Atherton 7,070 101 1,429
Los Altos 30,588 411 1,344
Los Altos Hills 8,517 113 1,327
Palo Alto 67,019 848 1,265
Hillsborough 11,769 141 1,198
San Carlos 39,864 412 1,034
West Menlo 3,600 36 1,000
Portola Valley 4,657 45 966


• Santa Clara County case rates by city,

• San Mateo County cases by city,


  1. This is tragic, and there ought to be more we Palo Altans can do to help our neighbors besides give them a testing truck. Let’s hope the city counsel thinks about our friends in East Palo Alto and does everything possible to help those residents fight this pandemic.

  2. It has a lot to do with the fact that only abou 1/4 of the people in this neighborhood are wearing masks (because they’re “dumb”), they also aren’t social distancing. EPA is doing it to itself. Im watching it happen. I live here. Don’t worry too much.

    • Is masks worked then why are states and countries with the strictest mask mandates and lockdowns experiencing the highest rates of Covid cases and deaths right now? Because masks not only don’t work, except possibly in certain healthcare settings – and even that’s iffy, they may actually be contributing to spread via touching and multiple uses of the same mask, as two examples.

  3. One factor is that many Palo Alto residents have jobs that allow them to work from home and isolate themselves from people spreading this virus. In the other hand, East Paly residents are not as lucky and must do jobs that put them in front of customers.

    • The overwhelming majority of spread occurs among households at home – and even then, your chances of catching it from a symptomatic family member is about 17% (notice how when your children are home sick, most of the time you don’t get sick yourself).

      If isolation worked, the strictest lockdown countries – e.g., Belgium, Italy, Peru, Argentina, UK, Spain, and France – should have the lowest rates of spread, hospitalizations, ICU, and deaths. Instead, those countries are in the top 20 of deaths per capita. Bottom line is you cannot “hide” from viruses, especially endemic ones like influenza and corona viruses, so learn to live with them. Luckily, they are not nearly as dangerous as the sensationalist media and over-reacting government would have you believe.

  4. Wow, I actually agree with Christina completely, and I’m glad that I’m not the only one who has observed this.

    EPA and North Fair Oaks are indeed doing this to themselves. Sure, many of them might live in housing with two families and/or many of this population might work in service industries where they don’t have the luxury of working from home. HOWEVER, I’ve noticed since March that the overwhelming majority of citizens from low income areas do not believe in wearing masks. Perhaps it’s considered to be a sign of “weakness”?

    But I’ve seen over and over and over again people of color in groups not wearing masks or social distancing. I’ve noticed groups of men working at construction sites or day laborers who do not wear masks!!!! Then when I read that people of color are getting the virus in higher numbers than other groups, I’m not surprised. They’re doing it to themselves. They’re refusing to “look weak” and wear a damn mask.

    It’s misleading for the news to write “Covid is affecting low income areas at a higher rate” due to anything other than their own choices. Again, there is a really sad mob mentality going on–laborers are in groups and seeing their colleagues refuse to wear a mask, so they refuse also. Then they wonder why they are getting the virus to spread????

    If people of color and/or low income groups are not receiving the same health care access or education on how to stay safe, then I am completely sympathetic and wish to help. But if particular groups are refusing to wear a mask and socially distance themselves and then they are getting and spreading the virus, that’s completely on them. There’s an element of “machismo” going on that no one seems to want to talk about….toxic masculinity.

  5. I reside in the St Leo’s neighborhood in downtown San Jose, and see the coronavirus impact on the community- It’s so sad; I have a mild form of mental Illness and find myself crying a lot,ex after reading or watching the coverage of the pandemic on the news.While another stimulus gets doled out.While money is nice, we need the support of each other.I can’t stress HOW DETRIMENTAL emotional supports is- it’s further reaching and more of a impact thAn money ever could.

    • I’d like to clarify what I Wrote earlier…a lack of emotional support is DETRIMENTAL to the human condition.While the thought of another EIP is nice, It doesn’t guite have the impact that that emotional support of each other has.Reaching out to support someone, like a relative, neighbor or even a stranger by simply just saying ” I hear you,hang in there.. don’t give up!! Speaks way more in volumes then money ever could. (Correction from original post by Michelle Terrell.) Corrected by Author

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