Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Jan. 20, 2021

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New accounting approach raises Clark County’s COVID-19 death toll

System introduced Wednesday sets total confirmed and suspect death toll at 112

By , Columbian Metro Editor

A new method of accounting for COVID-19 deaths has raised Clark County’s COVID-19 death toll to 112 confirmed and suspected cases.

The change in counting methods was announced Wednesday. Also Wednesday, a transition to a new state database for COVID-19 case management delayed the release of new case data by Clark County Public Health.

Under its new system, Public Health has created separate categories for confirmed COVID-19 deaths and suspect COVID-19 deaths. The county is now reporting 112 confirmed or suspect deaths associated with COVID-19, with 12 of that total classified as suspect deaths.

Public Health said confirmed deaths are those with a positive test and COVID-19 listed as a cause of death or as a contributing factor on a death certificate. A suspect death must occur within 60 days of a positive COVID-19 test, with COVID-19 not listed as a contributing factor on the death certificate but not ruled out.

Those 12 suspect deaths are not all recent, according to Public Health spokeswoman Marissa Armstrong. She said those deaths occurred from May to October, with most in August and September.

The new accounting system was put in place after a Public Health investigation to determine why the number of deaths the county has been reporting did not match data kept by the state Department of Health.

“Public Health identified some additional COVID-19 deaths that were included in the state total that Public Health did not know about,” Public Health said in a social media post explaining the change. “Public Health also identified deaths that, after a state vital statistics review, have been determined to not be due to COVID-19. We have adjusted our data to reflect these changes and moving forward will distinguish between suspect and confirmed deaths.”

A transition to a new state database prevented the release of new case information on Wednesday, but Public Health was able to report hospitalization numbers. As of Wednesday, there were 74 people hospitalized with COVID-19 and eight hospitalized awaiting test results.