County of Marin - News Releases - Unvaccinated Death

For Immediate Release
May 20, 2021

COVID-19 Death Illustrates Protection of Vaccine

Local cases overwhelmingly among unvaccinated residents

San Rafael, CA – After a record one month without any local COVID-19 deaths, Marin County Public Health has confirmed that an unvaccinated resident over age 65 has died from COVID-19. The resident had been living independently when hospitalized for shortness of breath last week.  This is the first COVID-19-related death in Marin since April 17.

Residents over age 65 became eligible for vaccinations in Marin County on February 15, and an estimated 98% of Marin residents in that age group have received at least one dose of vaccine. Consequently, deaths among the 65-and-older age group have taken a sharp decline.

Eighty-four percent of all Marin residents age 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine.

“We’re seeing the clear impact of vaccinations in saving lives,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County’s Public Health Officer. “After a month with no deaths, it’s especially hard to see someone pass at this stage, knowing we have an effective tool to prevent outcomes like this.”

Approximately 93% of Marin COVID-19 cases since March 1 have been among people who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated. Seven percent of cases are so called “breakthrough cases,” diagnosed more than two weeks after completing the vaccination series. Breakthrough cases, when they occur, are less likely to lead to hospitalization and death.  

“It’s reassuring to see that the data in our own community matches the very high efficacy found in the vaccine trials,” Willis said.

In the case of the recent death, the source of infection was unable to be determined, signifying that COVID-19 is still actively circulating in Marin County. While older adults are at highest risk for adverse outcomes, they can be infected by a person of any age or gender. Health officials urge people of all ages to get vaccinated, not just for their own health but for the health of those around them.

Marin case rates have remained above the level for achieving the yellow Tier 4 (“moderate risk”) within the State of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Public health officials remind residents that widespread vaccination will allow advancement to less restrictive policies safely.

The Marin County Department of Health and Human Services’ COVID-19 website is updated regularly with the latest information, including vaccination sites and schedules through


Laine Hendricks
Public Information Officer
County Administrator's Office

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite #325
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7496
Email: Laine Hendricks
County Administrator website