Oklahoma epidemiologist: State to use CDC COVID death report
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association said Tuesday that he is encouraged and happy that the State Department of Health will begin using U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 death reports, which show about 2,500 more deaths in Oklahoma due to the coronavirus than the department has reported.
“As physicians we want to make sure that these numbers are accurate and timely, and certainly one of the best ways to look at COVID deaths is to look at death certificate information,” which is prepared by doctors and used by the CDC to report deaths, said Dr. George Monks.
“I was encouraged by ... our state epidemiologist, that he addressed that issue, that there was a big discrepancy,” Monks said.
State epidemiologist Dr. Jared Taylor said Monday the Oklahoma Health Department would begin work to present the death toll reported by the CDC National Center for Health Statistics.
“The difference in death counts is that the CDC values they are citing are derived from death certificates,” Taylor said. “OSDH counts are derived from people who are first diagnosed as COVID positive, then die, and we do a full investigation” into the cause of the death.
On Tuesday, the Health Department reported 4,534 total COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began. The CDC reported 7,001.
Death certificates from an attending physician have been the standard in understanding the scope and spread of any illness, Monks said.
“Maybe if there’s a new mutant virus that’s getting established in the state, or if there is a particular part of our state or our country where there’s an increasing number (of deaths) and maybe we need to increase mitigation efforts,” according to Monks.
“We had concerns dating back to Dec. 2 when the discrepancy between what the State Health Department was reporting and the CDC ... the gap was 358,” Monks said.
The seven-day rolling average of Oklahoma deaths, compiled by Johns Hopkins University, has increased from 32 to 39 per day.
The daily average of new coronavirus cases has declined during the past two weeks, from 1,325 to 719 per day and Oklahoma is 21st in the nation in new cases per capita with 269.23 for every 100,000 residents, according to the Johns Hopkins data.
The Health Department reported 111 new cases on Tuesday, for a total of 424,999 cases, and that 468 people were hospitalized with the virus.
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