The number of deaths from COVID-19 could potentially be higher than is currently reflected in state data. That’s because state health officials have identified more than 3,000 deaths from things like pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses from early on in the pandemic in people who were never tested for the virus.
“It’s going to be extremely hard to figure out if any of these were COVID-related,” said Katie Hutchinson with the Washington State Department of Health, which is currently investigating those deaths.
Those 3,000 or so deaths date back to January 1, prior to the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Washington. They are not currently reflected in the state death toll, which as of late Thursday stands at 1,044.
The state has disputed claims that its COVID-19 death total is inflated by as much as 13%, as reported by the Freedom Foundation. The report raised eyebrows after the Colorado Department of Health and Environment revised its total deaths due to COVID-19 by about 12%.
Jamie Nixon with Washington state’s Department of Health reports there are three cases included in the state’s death data that are not COVID related. They’re investigating another 25-30 cases that are likely not COVID related.
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“The process for identifying, recording, and registering COVID-19 deaths is complex and involves multiple data systems. The conclusions reached by the Freedom Foundation are based on a source of data that is very early in the death reporting, coding and processing sequence for legally registering deaths

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