Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
Washington, Jefferson and Henry counties have seen a jump in reported COVID-19 deaths due to new reporting guidelines announced by the state Monday.
Public health directors said that the new reporting guidelines more accurately reflect the number of COVID-19 deaths.
'They are more in line with what we understood to be the actual number,” Washington County Public Health Director Danielle Pettit-Majewski said Tuesday.
'This will require more accurate information,” Henry County Public Health Director Shelley Van Dorin said. 'This will be much more accurate.”
Jefferson County Public Health Director Christine Estle explained that when there is multiple organ failure in a patient due to COVID, it was more difficult to list a cause of death.
'This is a more traditional way to count deaths,” Estle said. 'There should be 100 percent accuracy and more streamlined.”
Kelly Garcia, interim director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, said Monday that the state will now count COVID-19 deaths using ICD-10 - federal cause-of-death coding.
That code is included on the death record completed by the health care provider.
'There was no code for COVID in March when all this started,” Pettit-Majewski said.
Estle said, 'You can't have a code for something you didn't know existed.”
The numbers have been adjusted in all three counties:
' Washington County from 16 to 21 deaths.
' Henry County from eight to 17 deaths.
' Jefferson County from five to nine deaths.
Statewide, the number of COVID deaths jumped by 177.
'There still may be some deaths underreported,” Pettit-Majewski said. 'I'm guessing there will be at least two more that pop up.”
Under the new recording system, a positive COVID test is no longer required for a death to be counted as a COVID-19 death.
It only needs to have the ICD-10 code on the death certificate provided by the doctor.
While the data may be more accurate, there will be a lag in getting the numbers.
'There will be a seven-day lag from when the medical examiner notifies to when they show up on the state's website,” Pettit-Majewski said.
Van Dorin said that there already is somewhat of a lag in the numbers being reported, so the new system should not have a major impact.