Health department employee resigns days after thousands of unreported COVID-19 deaths uncovered

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — An employee at the Ohio Department of Health resigned Friday, days after it was revealed that the state had thousands of unreported COVID-19 deaths.

The employee, an epidemiology investigator, submitted his resignation after being placed on administrative leave Thursday. State health officials have said a single employee was responsible for the underreported deaths.

After the deaths came to light, state health director Stephanie McCloud said the department would be restructured.

“It is not acceptable, and we are addressing it so the public can have confidence in this,” McCloud said Thursday.

The department estimated that 4,100 deaths have gone unreported since October. Those deaths are being added to the state’s total over several days. The issue was uncovered during employee training, and the employee charged with manually entering deaths and making sure there are no duplicates or mistakes fell behind during the fall.

In addition to the employee’s resignation, two changes at the health department were announced Friday.

Kristen Dickerson was appointed chief of the Bureau of Infectious Diseases. She previously served as manager for statewide health, wellness and special programs at the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

The former director, Sietske de Fijter, was reassigned to a position in the Bureau of Health Improvement and Wellness.

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