OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The death count reporting between the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the CDC has been a topic of concern for many Oklahomans and physicians. State epidemiologist Dr. Jared Taylor addressed the discrepancy in a virtual press conference on Monday, talking about why the gap is so large and what plans the state has to increase transparency.
Dr. Taylor explained that the state’s system became overwhelmed, which is what caused the discrepancy.
“Over time, as the systems became strained for a variety of reasons, there’s become a larger disconnect between that CDC NCHS number and our surveillance number,” said Dr. Taylor.
In an effort to increase transparency, Dr. Taylor said the State Department of Health will begin linking the state’s and the CDC’s death numbers.
“To have that presented on a public-facing front as a representative, not definitive, not absolute final tally, but as a very representative number of the impact that we believe that covid has had upon the state,” said Dr. Taylor.
Dr. George Monks, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, who spoke to News 4 last week on the death reporting discrepancy, said he felt encouraged that Dr. Taylor addressed the issue.
“It’s important that we get that information, and Oklahomans deserve to have timely and accurate information to really understand what the impact of COVID-19 is on our state,” said Dr. Monks. “So it’s important to get this right.”
Dr. Monks went on to say that he supports the state’s investigating of COVID-19 deaths, as the CDC’s number could reflect Oklahoman deaths outside the state.
“You’re going to have a little bit of fluctuation in that number because the CDC number does not include Oklahomans who died in other states from covid,” said Dr. Monks.
Overall, Dr. Monks said he does not believe the discrepancy was intended.
“I don’t think that there’s anything nefarious going on here, but we’ve got to get it right,” said Dr. Monks.
As of March 2, the difference between the State Department of Health’s death number and the CDC’s is 2,467 deaths.