Coroner calls for statewide audit of COVID-19 death statistics
Coronavirus particles under microscope (Hannah A. Bullock, Azaibi Tamin/CDC via AP)

There are many questions about the number of COVID-19 deaths reported by the State of Illinois, from totals to causes of death.

According to multiple media outlets, Monroe County Coroner Bob Hill is asking for a statewide audit of the COVID-19 reported deaths.

The concern is that if a person tested positive for COVID-19 at some point, that's what their death will be classified as, which can be misleading.

"I haven't seen what the Monroe County coroner said, I haven't seen anybody's response to it yet, but I think it's possible," Sangamon County Coroner Jim Allmon said. "Some deaths classified inappropriately in a middle of a pandemic, yeah. Do I think it's intentionally being done? I haven't seen any evidence of that."


If a person dies and they previously had COVID-19, that is a natural death. 

On medical death certificate, the cause is decided by a physician. There are three lines for causes of death, plus a contributing factor section.

"I would be curious to know, as a county coroner, where IDPH [Illinois Department of Public Health] pulls COVID-19 from on the death certificate, if it's anywhere on the death certificate,” Allmon said.

Allmon says that's the disconnect — Is every death certificate with the word "COVID-19" on it being counted as a COVID-19 death, even if it's not the primary cause of death listed?

"So, if someone is counted as a COVID death prior to their death certificate being finalized by a physician, I might have some concern there,” Allmon said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for reporting COVID-19 deaths, if COVID-19 is listed as the "probable” or “presumed” cause, the death is coded as a COVID-19 death, whether it's confirmed by a laboratory or not.

"I think it's entirely possible for COVID-19 to be placed on a death certificate as a result of it being part of someone's medical history, where they may have tested positive 30 or 60 days ago, somewhat recovered, went home, had to be brought back to the hospital 30 days later for something else,” Allmon said.

And that's the question: Should that be a classified as a COVID-19 death?

When it comes to reporting deaths, every agency is showing different numbers.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reports 21,022 total deaths, plus 2,265 probable deaths.

However, the Governor's Mansion has a plaque that says 23,000 deaths..

Currently, the CDC only reports 20,140 deaths for Illinois.

In February, IDPH gave us preliminary data, saying COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death for Sangamon County.


Deaths on the rise in Sangamon County; COVID-19 isn't the only reason

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