DPH reports ‘significant overcount’ of Mass. COVID-19 deaths
The administration of Gov. Charlie Baker will start using a new public health surveillance definition next week, narrowing the window of time between a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis and death required for the fatality to get attributed to the highly infectious virus.
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From March 2020 to March 2021, the DPH counted the death of any person who had previously tested positive for COVID-19 as a COVID-19-related death, regardless of how much time elapsed between those two events.
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The new method suggested by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists calls for counting deaths within 30 days of a COVID-19 diagnosis where “natural causes” is labeled on a death certificate as attributable to the virus, half as long a timeframe as under the most recent definition in Massachusetts.
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As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Massachusetts health officials had recorded 23,708 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths since the outbreak first began, so that figure is likely to drop to around 20,000 on Monday.