A county in the state of California is now in the process of revising its COVID-19 death total after a recent review of the numbers revealed that almost a quarter of the deaths that were attributed to the coronavirus were not actually caused by the illness.
“There are definitely people who died from reasons that were clearly not caused by COVID, Alameda County Public Health Department spokeswoman Neetu Balram went on to say.
Part of the reason for this problem is the definition the county was using as a means of counting COVID deaths. The only requirement for counting a death as caused by the illness was for the individual who passed away to have a positive coronavirus test.
A great example of this is a case in the county where a person who died of a car accident tested positive for the virus. This person was counted as a COVID death, even though their death was not the direct result of the illness.
The revised count now shows the county has recorded 1,223 COVID-19 deaths, down from 1,634. The 411 cases removed from the list is a 25% reduction in overall virus deaths for the county.
The county said it decided to make the revision after a careful reading of state guidelines, with officials saying the new count will more accurately reflect the effect the disease has had on the county.
“Obviously, our definition was broader than the state’s,” Balram stated.
While some adjustments to real-time data are to be expected, Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said the 25% revision “seems high.” Adalja said he has never seen that large of an adjustment to the death count from an infectious disease before.
However, county officials have insisted that the new revised number doesn’t impact how they chose the measures that were put in place to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“We knew any change like this would have raised some eyebrows,” Alameda County’s Health Officer Nicholas Moss went on to clarify. “Nothing about this changes our policy decisions now or during the height of the pandemic.”
It makes you wonder what the death total across the country would look like if counties went back and took a closer look at the numbers and the criteria used to consider whether or not a person died from COVID.
I bet it would lessen the overall number considerably.