COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Ohio Department of Health is finished retroactively adding more than 4,000 coronavirus deaths that mistakenly had not been counted toward the state’s total during the massive spike in infections last autumn.
NBC4’s analysis of the data – dumped over three days last week – confirms ODH’s claim that most of these added deaths were from November and December, when fatalities in the autumn spike were highest.
ODH added 4,480 total deaths to its coronavirus count from Feb. 11, the first day of the data dump, to Feb. 13, the last day. NBC4’s analysis cannot separate the exact number of deaths that are solely from the retroactive batch, but ODH says it is around 4,275.
Below is an interactive graph showing the 4,480-death total increase from Feb. 11-13, by date of death.
61% of these 4,480 added deaths were in December and 29% were in November.
Before the data dumps, Ohio’s deadliest day for COVID-19 was Dec. 10 with 111 deaths. The highest afterward was 212 on Dec. 16. The state also had just seven days with 100 or more deaths before corrections. It has 44 days of 100+ deaths now, including three days over 200.
|Top 5 death days before data dumps||Top 5 death days after data dumps|
|Dec. 10||111 deaths||Dec. 16||212 deaths|
|Dec. 11||109 deaths||Dec. 18||205 deaths|
|Dec. 16||109 deaths||Dec. 17||204 deaths|
|Dec. 13||107 deaths||Dec. 22||199 deaths|
|Dec. 17||107 deaths||Dec. 12||198 deaths|
The graph below shows all Ohio COVID-19 deaths in black, with the added 4,480 deaths in red. It illustrates just how much of the massive November-December total was missing before the data dumps.
This “reconciliation” of missed deaths is not unique to Ohio, health director Stephanie McCloud said during Gov. Mike DeWine’s coronavirus briefing last Thursday. Indiana, for example, added more than 1,500 coronavirus deaths to its total this month after a state audit.
“We’re working on a new process and quality assurance process going forward,” McCloud said, “And we’re also taking this opportunity with these additional resources and restructuring (of the state bureau of infectious diseases) to do a thorough review of everything that’s been reported and not yet reported to get a second look.”
ODH says the reporting mistake was caused by the “human error” of an epidemiology investigator who could not keep up with the onslaught of new deaths during the autumn spike. The mistake was caught during a routine training, and the employee responsible resigned on Friday.
Ohio, America’s seventh-most populous state, now ranks eighth in coronavirus deaths after ranking 13th before the reconciliation.