Ohio Department of Health changing how it counts COVID-19 deaths

Coronavirus

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Ohio Department of Health is trading speed for accuracy when it comes to counting deaths from COVID-19. 

Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff discussed changes Tuesday to how COVID-19 deaths will be counted after a review of the process.  

In February, the Department of Health announced the state’s COVID-19 death count was underreported by some 4,200, leading to the review.

McCloud and Vanderhoff said death counts will now come from death certificates rather than reports from hospitals, urgent cares and local health departments. Because of how the state processes death certificates, death totals will now be updated twice a week, rather than daily, on the state’s online coronavirus dashboard.

Previously, the state posted death counts from hospitals, urgent cares and local health departments each day and then corrected those numbers as needed once death certificates were processed. McCloud said the problem came when the reconciliation process became bogged down late in 2020.

As of Monday, a total of 17,346 deaths had been reported in the state.

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