Three percent of Washington’s reported COVID-19 deaths may be inaccurate

SPOKANE, Wash.– COVID-19 has killed more than 1,000 people in Washington.

But, the Washington Department of Health said some of those people actually died from something else, like gun shot wounds.

They said that’s the case for about five people.

There are another 25-30 people currently being counted as COVID-19 deaths, who may have died from other diseases like cancer or Alzheimer’s.

How does that happen?

Well, if someone tested positive for COVID-19 at any point, and then later passed away, then they’re automatically reported as a COVID-19 death.

The Department of Health said this is done because reporting deaths has never been done this quickly. It’s usually a much longer process.

“We don’t always know the cause of death for a death when it is first reported on our dashboard,” Katie Hutchinson of the Department of Health said.

DOH said about three percent of Washington’s COVID-19 deaths may be changed to a different cause of death.

“That is really actually quite excellent considering how death certificates are usually processed,” Hutchinson said.

With that said, Hutchinson believes they may be under-reporting COVID-19 deaths.

There are about 3,000 people in the state who died with covid-like symptoms but were not actually linked to a positive case.

Many of those may not ever be linked to COVID-19.

“We are actually more likely to be under-counting deaths than we are over-counting them,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson said it’s also possible to test people who are dead for COVID-19.

That may help clear up some unknown deaths, but that decision has to be made on a local level by the county’s medical examiner.

When this pandemic is over, the DOH plans on going back through and adjusting the total tally of COVID-19 deaths.

That process could take a year.

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