Rise in number of COVID-19 deaths in may be due to change in how PA is reporting cases and deaths

Written by on April 22, 2020

Rise in number of COVID-19 deaths in may be due to change in how PA is reporting cases and deaths

By Tyler Pratt

April 22, 2020

A worker verifies a coronavirus drive-thru testing appointment at a Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program (VEIP) station in Curtis Bay, Md., Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Maryland opened three drive-thru testing sites for residents who are symptomatic or at high risk of complications from COVID-19. The tests are offered at three vehicle emissions testing sites in Anne Arundel, Charles and Harford counties. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The number of cases of COVID-19 in the state is nearing 35,000. And the number of deaths has risen sharply. As WLVR’s Tyler Pratt reports, that increase may be due to a change in how Pennsylvania’s health department is now reporting cases and deaths of COVID-19.

Not everyone who contracts or even dies from coronavirus in Pennsylvania is tested for the virus. Because of extremely limited test supplies, the state has shifted how it’s tallying those statistics. 

According to the state more than 1,500 people have died from the virus so far — and 360 of those are probable cases.

Health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine says a probable death means the person died from what appeared to be COVID-19. 

“Over the weekend we announced an increase in our total death totals, because we have worked to reconcile several different reporting systems to get the most accurate picture possible,” said Levine.

Levine says adding in probable cases, and deaths, to state totals falls in line with how epidemiologists have tracked infectious illnesses in other outbreaks. And she says it’s highly likely that far more people have the virus than are showing up as confirmed positives.

An estimated 25% of people with COVID-19 may not have any symptoms at all.


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