Oklahoma State Health Department Delays Update To COVID-19 2020 Death Count

Thursday, October 7th 2021, 6:15 pm
By: Amy Slanchik


The State Health Department said it is still working on an internal audit to clarify the number of Oklahomans who died from COVID-19 in 2020.  

State health leaders initially said they would release a new number Thursday, which would correct a discrepancy between the state's numbers and the CDC’s.  

However, state leaders said in a news conference Thursday that the department is not done looking at 2020 deaths yet, and they now expect that corrected number to come out sometime next week. 

The state health department said it is investigating death certificates that are labeled as “COVID-related,” but are not necessarily connected to a positive COVID test.  

State health leaders said the number of deaths from 2020 previously reported by the state is expected to go up and will align more with what the CDC is reporting, but will not be exactly the same. 

"There might be an Oklahoman who, for instance, maybe they got transferred to Dallas and passed away there, that we would count but they would not. So that's why they numbers will never really all exactly match up. There's small nuances in the reporting that are different,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye said.  

To date, when you consider the whole pandemic, the CDC reports 10,596 deaths in Oklahoma.  

The state said in a news release that it reports deaths using its Acute Disease Services system, noting that auditing deaths reported through that system is something that happens routinely every year.