Request for deaths records

Matt Kiefer filed this request with the Ventura County Medical Examiner of Ventura County, CA.
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From: Matt Kiefer

To whom it may concern:

This is a request pursuant to the California Public Records Act. We are requesting death records dating back to Jan. 1, 2020, with the following information for each case:

- case number
- decedent name
- date of death
- location of death
- race
- ethnicity
- age
- gender
- occupation/industry
- whether injury/infection occurred at work
- incident location (street address, city, state, ZIP where injury/infection occurred)
- incident date
- decedent residence (street address, city, state, ZIP)
- cause(s) of death (indicating if COVID related)
- contributing factors
- any other accessible, non-exempt information contained in electronic case records

This request is part of an ongoing collaboration involving the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University, the MuckRock Foundation and partner newsrooms across the country. This request is part of a news-gathering process and is intended for educational, not commercial use.

We request expedited processing to the extent possible. This information is critical to the public’s understanding of the coronavirus pandemic and its local impact on public health. Let us know if we can help clarify this request in any way. Please also consider waiving any fees for producing the requested records.

Please provide the data in spreadsheet format as an e-mail attachment.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. We look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 calendar days, as the statute requires.

Matt Kiefer
John S. Knight Journalism Fellow
Stanford University

From: Ventura County Medical Examiner

Hello Matt
I phoned you on 6/26 and this morning to ask for clarity on your public record request and following up with this email. The PRA request is asking for death records dating back to Jan 1, 2020 and states that “This information is critical to the public’s understanding of the coronavirus pandemic and its local impact on public health.” I am happy to provide the records that the Medical Examiner’s Office (MEO) has. That said, we are not the custodians of “all” death records for the dates in question, only those deaths that fall under our jurisdiction. For example, to date in Ventura County, there have been 45 COVID-19 related deaths. Out of those 45 deaths, the MEO has diagnosed 9 of them and therefore, only has the records for those 9. We do not have the records for the remaining 36. The Ventura County Public Health Department and the California Department of Public Health may have the information you are requesting on those deaths as well as ours (all deaths). Much of their information would be exempt from disclosure due to privacy laws. We, however, are not exempt. Annually, our county experiences approximately 5500 deaths, approximately 1500 of those deaths are reported to and investigated by the MEO.
Do you still want the information you requested from our office or would you like to amend the request?
Please feel free to call me at the below number.
Renee Higgins

Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office
3100 Foothill Road, L#4550
Ventura, CA 93003
(805) 641-4406 T | (805) 641-4410 F<> |<>

From: Ventura County Medical Examiner

Please find attached the death record information requested for deaths reported to the Medical Examiner's Office from January 1st 2020 to June 26th 2020. These are only the deaths reported to the Medical Examiner, including those that were reported and then at some point determined to not fall under our jurisdiction. The description of Disposition is included. There are 888 total reports within this timeframe. I have highlighted the COVID-19 related deaths in the causes. There are nine COVID-19 related deaths in this report and to date that the Medical Examiner diagnosed. Let me know if you need any clarification. Please note, that most COVID-19 related deaths in Ventura County will happen under medical care in a hospital outside of Medical Examiner jurisdiction and as such, those records are not included in this report.
Renee Higgins

Chief Operating Officer
Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office
3100 Foothill Road, L#4550
Ventura, CA 93003
(805) 641-4406 T | (805) 641-4410 F<> |<>