A California County reportedly made a big mistake by inflating the number of COVID-19 deaths by 25%.
WND said California's Alameda Country has recently announced that their recorded 1,634 deaths due to COVID has been reviewed adjusted to 1,223 deaths only, a decrease in 25% or 411 cases. Alameda County is one of California's most populated, ranking 7th, providing a precedent that other heavily populated counties might also need to look into their records if it was really accurate.
As per WND, the decline in the recorded deaths was attributable to an adjustment in the policy the county follows when it comes to COVID. The county is said to have an "expansive definition" of what a COVID death is such that a person who died after testing positive to the virus is regarded as one even though the virus is not the direct cause of death or the contributing factor leading to the person's death.
The Oaklandside said in its report that the county officials have decided to revise the records after reviewing the California Department of Public Health guidance on classifying deaths for COVID-19. Alameda County Public Health Department spokesperson Neetu Balram told the Oaklandside in an interview that the new data now reflects more accurately how many people died of COVID-19 infection.
"(COVID-19 deaths are those) 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," Balram explained on the state's policy.
However, the county's 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," that Balram said was obviously "broader than the state's."
An example cited was a person who died in a car accident after testing positive to COVID-19 that would have been classified by the county as a COVID-19 death but would have been classified differently by the state. The actual causes of the deaths of the 411 cases that were removed from the county's record were not provided, however.
Alameda County Health Officer Nicholas Moss said that the adjustment shows the county's desire to provide accurate reporting on the virus although it did take them long to make the necessary review since they had to wait for the situation to stabilize.
"It's not an excuse. It's a reality. Unfortunately, it took us longer to get to this point than we would have liked," Moss told The Oaklandside in an interview.
Moss explained that unlike with other pandemics, the recording of information on the virus was done daily and directly to their database that is displayed publicly such that there was no more time to countercheck information received on COVID-19. He admitted during the interview that they expected negative reactions on the changes in figures but would have to continue maintaining their policy decisions.
"We knew any change like this would have raised some eyebrows. Nothing about this changes our policy decisions now or during the height of the pandemic," he added.
Meanwhile, NBC Bay Area reported that Alameda County has been moved to the yellow reopening tier on Tuesday that allows lesser restrictions on COVID such as opening with modifications of outdoor playgrounds and recreational activities, hair salons and barbershops, all retail, and critical infrastructures. Indoor gatherings are still strongly discouraged, however, but allowed with modifications to a maximum of three households only.