The number of deaths attributed to the coronavirus has been questioned since the beginning of the pandemic. Things like this are not helping.
Pennsylvania’s COVID death rate spiked twice in one week in mid-April, then suddenly dropped on April 23. This was apparently due to a decision to include “probable deaths” in the number of fatalities. A “probable death” is one that doctors believe was caused by the coronavirus but the patient had not been tested for COVID. In order to ensure accuracy in reporting, the Pennsylvania Department of Health decided to remove the “probable deaths” from the official COVID casualty list.
Earlier this week, Pennsylvania started to include “probable deaths” in its fatalities. As a result, the total number of coronavirus deaths grew by 276, then 360, in successive nights, almost doubling the number of deaths in the state in two days. The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) subsequently removed 200 deaths from its count after facing mounting questions about the accuracy of the count.
Source: Fox News
Probable cases make up <2% of total cases + give us an idea if something is happening in an area that needs investigation.
We rely on CONFIRMED case counts to make data driven decisions. As we work to move regions from red to yellow, we use confirmed data to base decisions.
— PA Department of Health (@PAHealthDept) April 23, 2020
Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine spoke to The Philadelphia Inquirer about the decision to remove the “probable deaths” from the list of COVID fatalities.
“We realize that this category can be confusing, since it does change over time,” Levine said.
“At times, there are things we need to review, and potentially revisit the way the data is being analyzed,” she said. “And this is one of those times.”
Coroners in Pennsylvania have been frustrated with the Health Department’s reluctance to seek their assistance in investigating the cause of death in many cases. Some have said that the Health Department’s numbers don’t reflect what coroners are seeing and that the two big jumps included a number of people that had died days or weeks before.
“There’s a discrepancy in the numbers,” Charles E. Kiessling Jr., president of the Pennsylvania Coroners Association and coroner in Lycoming County, said Thursday. “I’m not saying there’s something going on…. I’m not a conspiracy theory guy. But accuracy is important.”
It’s a matter of public safety, Kiessling said.
The confusion began Sunday, when Pennsylvania raised its coronavirus death toll to 1,112 — an increase of 276 overnight. On Tuesday, the department reported another spike, from 1,204 to 1,564 deaths.
In both cases, Levine said the surges reflected deaths that occurred days, even weeks, in the past.
“These deaths did not happen overnight,” Levine said Sunday.
Coroners have been locked out of the process for some time and it has had a direct effect on the numbers being reported by the state.
Despite coroners’ claims that they are well equipped to manage probable cases and legally obligated to be notified of suspected COVID-19 deaths, the Health Department hasn’t budged, insisting the majority of deaths caused by the virus do not need to be reported to a coroner.
“This is why I’m so upset,” Kiessling said. “Our job is to investigate.… We do this every day.”
If the dispute had been resolved a month ago, with coroners included in the department’s COVID-19 investigations, Kiessling said, the public trust in the state’s numbers would be stronger.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Isn’t it weird how the Pennsylvania Health Department with all their reliance on experts is not relying on the expertise of coroners to ensure that their numbers are accurate?
Do you think that the number of fatalities resulting from COVID that are being reported is accurate?