DSHS Improves Reporting of COVID-19 Fatalities
July 27, 2020
NOTE: This release has been updated to correct the total number of fatalities as of Monday, July 27 to 5,489. An automation error initially caused 224 fatalities to be included even though COVID-19 was not listed as a direct cause of death on the death certificate.
The Texas Department of State Health Services is improving the reporting of fatalities due to COVID-19 by identifying them through the cause of death listed on death certificates. This method allows fatalities to be counted faster with more comprehensive demographic data. Using death certificates also ensures consistent reporting across the state and enables DSHS to display fatalities by date of death, providing the public with more information about when deaths occurred. The change will be reflected in today’s data when posted online.
A fatality is counted as due to COVID-19 when the medical certifier, usually a doctor with direct knowledge of the patient, determines COVID-19 directly caused the death. This method does not include deaths of people who had COVID-19 but died of an unrelated cause. Death certificates are required by law to be filed within 10 days.
DSHS previously counted COVID-19 fatalities as they were reported publicly by local and regional health departments after they received a notification and verified the death. The length of time that process takes varies by jurisdiction and does not provide timely demographic information on most fatalities.
As of Monday, death certificate data has identified 5,489 fatalities among Texas residents, including 44 newly reported today. That compares with 5,038 deaths reported Sunday under the previous method. DSHS will continue to post the number of additional fatalities reported each day. Fatalities are reported based on where the person lived.
(News Media Contact: Chris Van Deusen, DSHS Director of Media Relations)
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