Alaska DHSS: Change in Death Reporting

Alaska DHSS announced a change today in the way that COVID-19 deaths are reported by the state of Alaska.

A note in today’s COVID-19 Case Count Summary details the change:

  • Change to reporting of deaths: “As of Jan. 4, 2021, counted deaths in Alaska now include both COVID-19 cases confirmed through a lab result, as well as probable deaths based on confirmed COVID-19 clinical and epidemiological criteria, as defined by the CDC, with no confirmatory lab testing. The three deaths added today are the probable deaths identified prior to Jan. 4. Making this change to include probable deaths brings Alaska in line with the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists’ (CTSE) standards for counting COVID-19 deaths as recommended by the CDC.”
  • “CDC considers “cause of death” to be a best medical opinion. Counted deaths include deaths where the medical professional outlines COVID-19 as a part of the logical sequence of causes that led to death. Out-of-state deaths of confirmed cases in Alaska residents are reported by another state either directly to the Section of Epidemiology or collected by the Section of Health Analytics and Vital Records through the State and Territorial Exchange of Vital Events system. The process of confirming and reporting deaths can take several weeks, therefore deaths do not reflect real-time reporting due to the reporting lag time.”

Today’s announced changes are almost certain to infuriate the far-right Covid deniers and conspiracy theorists who play ‘stay-at-home epidemiologists.’