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State Health Department Undercounted 4,000 COVID-19 Deaths

State health officials say they have undercounted the number of COVID-19 deaths in Ohio by as many as 4,000 people, and the total will be adjusted in coming days.  

The state's cornavirus dashboard lists 11,856 deaths as of Wednesday, but that number is more like 16,000.

In a statement Wednesday the Ohio Department of Health says the discrepancy in reporting was discovered "during routine employee training".

"Process issues affecting the reconciliation and reporting of these deaths began in October. The largest number of deaths were from November and December.... As these deaths are added to the counts, the daily reported death counts will be high for a two to three-day period. After this increase, normal processes will resume, with increased quality assurance related to the death reconciliation process."

There was no immediate explanation on how so many deaths were overlooked.  The Ohio Department of Health compiles the number of deaths using two databases, comparing information from  health departments, hospitals and physcians with official death certificates, which may be filed as long as six months later.

In September, 2020 the State Auditor's Office began auditing COVID-19 data.  ODH says it will continue to work with the Auditor.

A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.
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