Officials say an investigation is beginning into the number of deaths across Washington since the start of the COVID-19 crisis after a Washington Post and Yale School of Public Health examination revealed an estimated “15,400 excess deaths” across the nation not publicly attributed to the virus during the outbreak.
An analysis of the “overall state mortality” with assistance from the UW School of Health will examine the issues identified in the Washington Post report, Kathy Lofy of the Washington State Department of Health said Wednesday during the governor’s press conference on COVID-19 metrics being assessed as the next extension of “stay home” restrictions is readied.
The Washington Post reported earlier this week on around 15,000 “excess deaths” — “the number beyond what would normally be expected for that time of year” — that occurred in March through April 4th. 8,128 deaths were attributed to COVID-19 during the same period. “Higher-than-normal mortality is a starting point for scientists seeking to understand the full impact of the disease,” the Post report reads.
A more complete picture of deaths related to the outbreak and crisis could also help inform policies and decisions around distancing and any easing of restrictions.
In King County, determination of what deaths are attributed to COVID-19 in the publicly available reporting hinges on the decision of a physician if the person died of natural causes, or “a coroner/medical examiner if injury or poison was involved in the death,” a Public Health spokesperson tells CHS.
“For any King County resident whose death certificate includes COVID-19 as either a primary or contributing cause of death, we would count toward our overall COVID death count,” the spokesperson said. “That is reflected in the dashboard.”
CHS has been reporting on daily updates to the Public Health dashboard from the onset of the outbreak.
Through Wednesday, there have been 446 COVID-19 related deaths reported in the county and six across the main ZIP codes covering Capitol HIll and the Central District. The reported state death total has now reached 801 some 101 days since the first Washington positive case was identified — at the time, that case was believed to be the first “presumed positive” in the nation.
- 5/4/20: COVID-19 updates: Phase 1 begins, what’s in Phase 2 (and 3 and 4), King County removes antibody testing case counts, COVID-19 yard art
- 5/1/20: Washington extends COVID-19 restrictions through May, readies ‘four phase’ plan for reopening with limits on groups, restaurant capacity, and travel
- 4/30/20: Washington investigating state totals after COVID-19 ‘excess deaths’ report
- 4/30/20: Facing opposition from mayor and chamber advocates, Seattle tax on big businesses for COVID-19 relief and housing moves toward May vote
- Plus: Capitol Hill Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes offering takeout during COVID-19 ‘stay home’ restrictions
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