A county in the state of California is going back over its COVID-19 death total after a recent review uncovered that they had overcounted deaths caused by the virus by a whopping 25 percent.
“There are definitely people who died from reasons that were clearly not caused by COVID,” Alameda County Public Health Department spokeswoman Neetu Balram stated.
Part of the problem was the definition the county had been using to count coronavirus deaths. The definition required only that the a patient test positive for the illness when they died, even if the cause of the person’s death was not a direct result of the virus.
In fact, in one particular incident, a person tested positive for coronavirus, but died in a car accident. The death was counted as a COVID death.
The revised count now shows the county has recorded 1,223 COVID-19 deaths, down from 1,634. The 411 cases removed from the list is a 25% reduction in overall virus deaths for the county.advertisement — content continues below
The county said it decided to make the revision after a careful reading of state guidelines, with officials saying the new count will more accurately reflect the effect the disease has had on the county.
“Obviously, our definition was broader than the state’s,” Balram went on to say.
While some adjustments to real-time data are to be expected, Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said the 25% revision “seems high.” Adalja said he has never seen that large of an adjustment to the death count from an infectious disease before.
However, county officials have insisted that the revised number does not impact how they chose the measures they put in place to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“We knew any change like this would have raised some eyebrows,” Alameda County’s Health Officer Nicholas Moss stated. “Nothing about this changes our policy decisions now or during the height of the pandemic.”