Reporting Changes For COVID-19 Deaths At OSDH

Thursday, March 4th 2021, 10:09 am
By: Tevis Hillis

The Centers for Disease Control has reported more than 7,000 COVID-19 deaths in Oklahoma thus far while the Oklahoma State Department of Health has only tallied more than 4,400 deaths statewide.

The disparity is causing the OSDH to change the way it counts the COVID-19 death toll.

Now, confirmed deaths will be based on death certificate reports and not investigation results from the OSDH.

"We sought to achieve that goal throughout this pandemic, but there has been a couple of occasions where we have encountered something of this type of what may be seen as a misalignment," state epidemiologist Jared Taylor said.

At the end of 2020, the peak of the pandemic, the state health agency said its death records were incomplete as more people died every day.

Every incomplete record had to be investigated. Those investigations can take as long as three months.

The Healthier Oklahoma coalition said it was always concerned with the state's reporting method, but this change could give us a more current picture of the state of the pandemic.

"I do not think there were any wrongdoings, but we have to get it right," Oklahoma State Medical Association president Dr. George Monks said. “It is so far off, it is striking.”