Gun shot victims counted as Washington coronavirus deaths

(Jason Rantz) Washington state counts gun shot victims as coronavirus related deaths, state public health officials admit.

This method of counting coronavirus deaths, which could pad the numbers, has incredible implications. It doesn’t just artificially increase the death rate. It is used by Governor Jay Inslee to keep the economy shut down longer than may be necessary.

These findings were first reported by the Freedom Foundation, which now finds itself the target of Inslee’s bizarrely-expressed ire.

Padding the Washington coronavirus death data

In a telephone press briefing last week, public health officials with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) acknowledge their data collection is unusual.

“So our method that we use to give up-to-date counts related to COVID death is not our usual process for how we track data for deaths in Washington,” Dr. Katie Hutchison, Health Statistics Manager for DOH. “We had to modify what we normally do in order to quickly meet the data and informational needs of the pandemic. We’re aware that there is some confusion about how this works and whether or not this modified process is accurate.”

It seems obvious that their data is not accurate. They imply as much: “Our dashboard numbers do include any death to a person that has tested positive to COVID-19.”

That means, if a COVID-19 patient dies of a gun shot wound or in a car crash, the data lists that patient as a coronavirus death. If a tree falls on a coronavirus patient and kills them? It’s listed as a coronavirus death.

“We currently do have some deaths that are being reported that are clearly from other causes,” Dr. Hutchison admits. “We have about five deaths, less than five deaths, that we know of that are related to obvious other causes. In this case, they are from gunshot wounds.”

Complexities in counting

Hutchison explained to reporters that the Washington coronavirus death data collection is complex, since “providing data in near real time is not our normal process.” Indeed, finalized death data “takes up to 18 months from start to finish.”

The DOH says there are about 100 cases where someone is listed as dying from coronavirus (or “probable” from coronavirus), but they can’t trace how the individual got the coronavirus. They can’t, then, definitively rule these cases as coronavirus deaths, though they’re being treated that way.

The state also has about 3,000 death certificates in their system that have deaths relating to symptoms of coronavirus. These are not counted in the death numbers because they have not been investigated fully yet. If all are actual coronavirus deaths, it would put Washington into the top 10 highest death counts by state (assuming the other states aren’t counting deaths the way we are). That would be a bad look for Inslee, and would keep us closed longer.

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