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DHS explains how they count COVID-19 deaths

The director of communicable diseases for DHS said the way Covid-19 deaths are counted hasn’t...
The director of communicable diseases for DHS said the way Covid-19 deaths are counted hasn’t changed since the beginning of the pandemic.(DHS)
Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 8:58 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The director of communicable diseases for DHS said the way COVID-19 deaths are counted hasn’t changed since the beginning of the pandemic. Though, she said it is a frequently asked question.

A medical examiner or clinician ultimately decides if the person died from COVID-19. Some believe in the spring of 2020 when COVID-19 deaths were scarce death numbers were skewed. Others suggest those numbers are being inflated to make the pandemic seem worse than it is.

The department says their focus remains the same: reducing the number of casualties to COVID-19.

“When COVID-19 testing was scarce, we really were focusing testing efforts on people who had severe cases, who were hospitalized,” said Traci Desalvo, Director of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases for DHS.

The number of confirmed deaths and probable deaths combined makes up the number of COVID-19 deaths. A confirmed death is someone who died and has a positive COVID-19 test result.

A probable death is someone who died and did not have a positive confirmed laboratory test but have either a positive antigen test, have symptoms and known exposure to COVID-19 or have SARS-COV-2 listed on their death certificate.

For more on how the department reviews those deaths click here.

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