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Texas changes method of counting COVID-19 related deaths

Texas, one of the nation's hot spots for the virus, has changed the way they count COVID-19 related deaths
Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 10:28 PM CDT
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SHERMAN, Texas (KXII) - The Texas Department of State Health and Human Services announced last week that they are cutting out the local county health departments and looking only at death certificates to count COVID-19 related deaths.

Before, these deaths were counted by county health departments who reported to the state.

“People are like ‘don’t look at it as a conspiracy,’ but at the same time, I think it gets messed with, I do,” said Cristyle Raushe, a Grayson County resident.

Now, the state will look directly at death certificates. State health officials said they will only count a COVID-19 death when someone dies directly from the disease, not, for instance, after testing positive and dying in a car wreck.

DSHS said this improved method will be more consistent and provide more data for the public on where and when the deaths occurred.

But this new system has already caused alarm, with a spike of 225 extra deaths incorrectly reported earlier in the week of July 27.

”That’s a big jump!” said Jeremy Campbell. “That is an eyebrow raise, like, it makes you think why all of a sudden is it that way?”

DSHS said the mistake was caught and will continue to conduct this method going forward.

It takes about nine days for the certificates to make their way to Austin, then each death will be counted on the day it happened.

This means past day death counts could grow weeks later.

For instance, on Friday the state received 295 death certificates and added those to the day on which the person died.

That increased July 20th’s count by 27 to 150, three more for July 4 and one more as far back as June 12.

”I don’t know that it’s really going to improve things at all. I really don’t, I’m very doubtful,” said Deborah Barrax, a Sherman resident. “There’s so much confusion surrounding this disease, in terms of how to address it, the way deaths are being counted - what people are being told to do, what not to do, so yeah it’s very confusing.”

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