OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Washington State Department of Health is providing some more details into its reporting of deaths during the pandemic, including COVID-19 being ruled out as a cause in dozens of deaths statewide.
The DOH has published a new death data report including different categories of COVID-19 deaths including:
- Confirmed due to COVID-19
- Suspected of being due to COVID-19
- Non COVID deaths
- Deaths pending or missing cause of death
The DOH says there have been 1,458 deaths among Washington residents who have had a positive RT-PCR COVID-19 test.
Among that count, the DOH determined that 65 of those cases did indeed test positive for the novel virus, but died of unrelated causes. 56 of those deaths were labeled natural and not related to COVID, while nine others had causes such as homicide, suicide or accident.
Those deaths have since been removed in the counts presented on the DOH dashboard.
In Spokane County, the DOH says there have been 43 deaths among residents who tested positive for the virus. Two of those have since been changed to non-COVID deaths while another death is suspected of being due to COVID-19.
"Since the first COVID-19 case in Washington in January, DOH has worked to transparently release data in near real-time so that the public, health care providers, policy makers, the media and public health professionals can access current information," the DOH said. "This additional information gives context for decision makers working to stop the spread of the virus."
In determining whether COVID contributed to a person's death, the DOH currently uses death certificates, test results, case/contact investigation info, follow-up with medical certifiers and public health jurisdictions. This process can take weeks to verify
The DOH states the collection and finalization of death data is a long process and it could take up to a year to get finalized counts on COVID-19 deaths.