COVID-19 death discrepancy: OSDH adds CDC numbers to daily report

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COVID-19 death discrepancy: OSDH, CDC numbers not matching up (Photo: KFOR)

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — The Oklahoma State Department of Health has begun including the Centers for Disease Control’s number of coronavirus deaths as a provisional count, raising the toll by about 2,500.

OSDH on Wednesday reported 7,035 deaths based on the CDC count of death certificates, compared to 4,534 reported by the health department Tuesday.

OSDH Epidemiologist Dr. Jared Taylor said its reports of COVID-19 deaths were lower than the CDC’s because it more fully investigates deaths rather than relying on the death certificates.

“The difference in death counts is that the CDC values they are citing are derived from death certificates where OSDH counts are derived from people who are first diagnosed as COVID positive, then die, and we do a full investigation,” said Dr. Taylor. “We will reconcile those numbers in early 2021. I would assert that our numbers reflect a rather thorough investigation but it’s possible we may pick up some additional deaths from reviewing death certificate records.”

OSDH announced the changes Monday.

“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.

Oklahoma’s confirmed death toll remains at 4,534.

Dr. Taylor says after the state’s investigations are done, the OSDH and CDC numbers will be a closer match.

“The Provisional Death Count is based on death certificates. As cases increased toward the end of 2020, our investigating epidemiologists began encountering larger numbers of incomplete records requiring in-depth investigation. This process has subsequently caused an increasing difference between the OSDH death count.

Thorough investigations of each COVID-19 death will continue while also reporting the Provisional Death Count, and in the long run, our numbers will more closely align with the CDC’s.

Oklahoma State Department of Health

The department reports 747 new virus cases for a total of 425,746 since the pandemic began. 

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