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Ohio News

Ohio Is Changing The Way It Handles COVID-19 Death Data

Stephanie McCloud, director Ohio Department of Health
Stephanie McCloud, director Ohio Department of Health

The Ohio Department of Health is making major changes to the system it uses for recording COVID-19 deaths. This comes weeks after it was discovered that more than 4000 deaths were not recorded. 

Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud says the agency has been manually counting COVID deaths through a reconciliation process so they could get those numbers out to the public faster.  But she says that process was fraught with human error. So, starting today, she says the agency will rely on death certificates after they have been reviewed and coded by the CDC. 

“It’s very reliable. It will be automated. It will have quality assurance checks on that automated process but it will be somewhat delayed," McCloud says.

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Credit Ohio Dept of Health

Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the chief medical officer for ODH, used a diagram to explain the current reconciliation process, which involved the agency's employees taking steps to speed up the reporting of the death numbers. 

McCloud says as a result of the new process, the death total will temporarily go down while the agency waits for death certificates to backfill the numbers. She says she doesn’t know how much the system changes will cost and cautions not all of them can be made now in the midst of the pandemic. 

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau