A a quarter of all deaths previously attributed to COVID-1
This puts the new official number of COVID-19 casualties in the county at 1223, compared to 1634.
The 25% reduction – or 411 cases – is due to the fact that COVID is “not a direct cause” of death in these cases, according to county health officials.
County officials decided to revise the numbers after reviewing the California Department of Public Health guidelines on how to classify deaths caused by COVID-19. The new number more accurately reflects how many people have died as a result of a direct result or complications from a COVID-19 infection.
“There are definitely people who have died for reasons that are obviously not caused by COVID,”
said Neetu Balram, a spokeswoman for the Alameda County Public Health Department.
Balram could not give specific data on the true cause of death of 411 people removed from the COVID-19 data, but she said the cases were identified after reviewing codes entered by district investigators in CalREDIE, the state reporting database. and disease surveillance. Alameda County uses CalREDIE data to populate its COVID dashboard.
Dr Amesh Adalya, an infectious disease expert and senior scientist at the John Hopkins Health Security Center, told The Oaklandside that although some adjustments are expected, 25% “look high”. Adalya said he had never seen such a big correction in the number of deaths from other infectious diseases.
Nicholas Moss, a health official in Alameda County, said the deaths removed from the COVID rollers occurred throughout the pandemic. He hopes the county’s decision to adjust the numbers will show people that the county is committed to accurately reporting the effects of the virus.
“We knew that any change like this would raise some eyebrows,” Moss told The Oaklandside. “Nothing in this changes our political decisions now or in the midst of a pandemic.”
The county’s original method is to attribute death to COVID-19 if the investigator or health care provider (such as a hospital) lists someone as positive for the coronavirus at the time of their death.
Balram said the definition of the state is different: Death can be attributed to COVID-19 only if the forensic doctor or health care provider can show that the person died “as a direct result of COVID-19, with COVID-19 being cause of death, or in which death caused by COVID-19 cannot be ruled out. “The state came up with this definition at the end of last year in the middle of a pandemic, after Alameda County was already using its method.
“Obviously, our definition was broader than the state’s,” Balram said, adding that the 411 deaths that were eliminated were “obviously not COVID.”
In announcing the changes in the data, the county used the example of a resident who tested positive for COVID-19 but died in a car accident. According to the original definition, the death of this person would be included in the total number of deaths of COVID-19. Balram said he could not say whether the actual scenario took place in Alameda County.
“Once the state complies with these guidelines, Alameda County learned of the conflicting definitions and made a plan to update when cases and deaths stabilize,” a statement from the Alameda County Public Health Department said.
Prior to Friday’s update, Alameda County’s COVID dashboard showed 1,687 deaths, reflecting not only the county’s old definition of COVID-related death, but all the new deaths added to the May 23 rolls. Deaths are often reported at various intervals and rarely on the day they actually occur.
During the pandemic, county deaths from COVID-19 showed much smaller fluctuations caused by various factors, such as if a person died in Alameda County but did not live there.
Alameda County’s COVID dashboard contains several disclaimers, including that recent numbers, including infections and deaths, are subject to change. This includes cases that go from “suspect” to “confirmed”, as well as dates of reporting the death to the day it actually occurred.
“Death data may be adjusted from time to time when information on the cause of death or the district of the deceased’s residence has been finalized,” the COVID dashboard said in a warning.
The Alameda County COVID case review is another example of potential shortcomings in real-time data reporting involving several agencies during the global public health crisis.
Moss, who has more experience with the HIV / AIDS epidemic, said the data were calculated only six months after the previous year. According to him, the data for COVID-19 are entered daily, thus providing less time to ensure that the reported data meet universal standards.
“This is not an excuse. That’s the reality, “Moss said. “Unfortunately, it took us longer to get to this point than we would have liked.”