The heat wave that scorched California a year ago may have contributed to the deaths of three times as many people as the state has officially reported, an Associated Press investigation suggests.
As recently as last month, state officials reported that the two-week period of triple-digit temperatures that began July 14, 2006, killed 143 people. Statistics compiled by the AP from each of California's 58 counties show the number of deaths last July was 466 higher than the average over the previous six years, a spike many health officials attribute to the record heat.
In Sacramento County alone, the July 2006 death toll was more than 100 over the average.
"I cannot account for any event that could have caused that, other than the heat wave," county Health Officer Glennah Trochet said in response to the AP's research.
The discrepancy is important because it suggests an inadequate statewide reporting process and indicates that state and local agencies must do more to monitor and care for those who are most vulnerable.
Frank McCarton, chief deputy director of the Gov.'s Office of Emergency Services, said there is a clear need for state and county health officials to more accurately track heat-related deaths.
"This is something we're going to really try to tighten up," he said.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
A great use of FOI to check the official story...