Texas Virus Deaths Jump by 675 as State Discovers Missing Data


Texas added 675 people to its tally of deaths from Covid-19 -- bringing the total to 5,713 -- after changing its reporting basis to rely on the official cause listed on the death certificate.

The state adjusted data going back to the earliest deaths in March. The new measure increased the total deaths attributed to the virus by 13% Monday.

“We’re always looking for ways we can improve what we’re reporting and both our and the public’s understanding of what’s happening with coronvavirus,” said Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for the state health department. “As we were looking at this, it seemed like a change we could make that would provide more accurate data.”

The coronavirus has infected almost 4.3 million Americans and killed more than 147,000, and the nation’s decentralized health system has struggled with an accurate accounting. States and cities have lumped together dissimilar data, backdated statistics and occasionally simply not counted some cases. In addition, some politicians have been loath to make data transparent and easily accessible.

Texas has made several other revisions in recent weeks to how it reports data, for instance, filtering out cases from the San Antonio area that had been reported as suspected instead of confirmed.

On Monday, Texas reported another 4,267 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the total to 385,923.

Incomplete Reports

Until now, the state had been relying on local health departments to report deaths they recorded in their jurisdiction, and those numbers were compiled for a statewide Covid-19 data website.

But some deaths got missed locally, and never made it to the state, Van Deusen said. And the state recorded deaths on the days it received reports -- not the actual date of the fatality. So the state switched its source to certificates, and searched back through March for any death attributed to the virus.

That search resulted in the discovery of 631 deaths not previously reported, Van Deusen said. Monday’s death toll was 44.

The state will now report the number of certificates received any given day listing the virus as a factor. However, in the historical chart, the numbers will be listed by actual date of death. Because counties have 10 days to file those certificates to the state, recently published numbers will increase as more certificates arrive.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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