A county in California has revised their COVID-19 death total down 25% — by 411 cases — after initially counting all deaths with a positive COVID-19 test as a COVID-related death.
Alameda County has changed their total deaths caused by the novel coronavirus from 1,634 to 1,223, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“County officials decided to revise the numbers to align with the California Department of Public Health’s guidance on how to classify deaths,” Fox News noted Sunday. “The county previously included deaths of anyone infected with the virus, regardless of whether COVID-19 was a direct or contributing cause of death.”
“There are definitely people who died from reasons that were clearly not caused by COVID,” said Alameda County Public Health Department spokeswoman Neetu Balram, according to The Oaklandside.
Balram told The Oaklandside that 411 cases were dropped from the total “after reviewing codes entered by county coroners into CalREDIE, the state’s database for disease reporting and surveillance.”
The spokeswoman explained that the revision was prompted by a discrepancy in guidance between the county and the state. The Oaklandside reported:
The county’s original method was to attribute a death to COVID-19 if the coroner or medical provider (like a hospital) listed someone as being positive for the coronavirus at the time of their death.
Balram said the state’s definition was different: A death can only be attributed to COVID-19 if the coroner or medical provider can show that the person died “as a direct result of COVID-19, with COVID-19 as a contributing cause of death, or in whom death caused by COVID-19 could not be ruled out.” The state came up with this definition late last year in the middle of the pandemic, after Alameda County was already using its method.
“Obviously our definition was broader than the state’s,” Balram said.
“When the state implemented these guidelines, Alameda County became aware of the conflicting definitions and made a plan to conduct the update when cases and deaths stabilized,” the Alameda County Public Health Department explained in a statement.
Alameda County’s health officer Nicholas Moss emphasized that the county is committed to giving locals accurate coronavirus information.
“We knew any change like this would have raised some eyebrows,” Moss said. “Nothing about this changes our policy decisions now or during the height of the pandemic.”
Infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja was critical of the 411-case drop, saying the 25% revision “seems high.”
As highlighted by The Daily Wire in September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published an update on the data regarding U.S. deaths linked to COVID. The report included a section on “comorbidities” and stated that of all the deaths attributed to COVID, a mere 6% of those deaths had COVID alone cited as the cause, noting, “For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.”
Axios added context to the statistic in its own “reality check“: “While the cause of death listed as solely from the coronavirus occurred in 6% of cases in the U.S. from Feb. 1 to Aug. 22, this doesn’t mean that the virus was not a contributing factor or, indeed, the leading cause in the other 94%,” the outlet said. “The U.S. virus death toll would be much lower if this were the case.”