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Verify: What qualifies as a COVID-19 death?

Are COVID-19 deaths added from the state's routine records check' -- people who never officially tested positive for the virus?

WEST MICHIGAN - Are COVID-19 deaths added from the state's routine records check' -- people who never officially tested positive for the virus?

13 ON YOUR SIDE viewer Lois Flaig from Muskegon asked us to Verify this.

The sources:

Senior Epidemiologist Derel Glashower says there are two different types of COVID-19 cases as well as deaths: confirmed and probable.

"We have two different categories for deaths confirmed and probable. We have similar definitions for cases that come in period. Confirmed and probable. And so there are similarities between the two and it often has to do with whether a person has test results so a confirmed case of COVID-19 often has the gold standard test for COVID-19 which is just really strong evidence that a person had COVID-19," says Glashower. 

"There are other situations where they are probable cases so that's someone was around someone who was a confirmed case. So with our deaths we do have instances that are similar to that and we trust our medical professionals in the community to properly assign causes of death and probable situations where COVID-19 might be listed on their death certificate but that person did not test positive for COVID-19," added Glashower.

He says on the flip side, there's a concern that there's a 'undercounting of COVID-19 deaths' -- people that were never tested for COVID-19, who passed away from related complications and it was never reported. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services shared the following statement with 13 ON YOUR SIDE:

"The deaths reported on the front page all have a positive diagnostic COVID-19 test associated with them and are confirmed deaths. We do include probable deaths on the Coronavirus - Michigan Data, and they are counted in a separate category. These are deaths among individuals who had symptoms consistent with COVID-19, an epidemiological link to a confirmed case or a positive antibody test but who do not have a positive diagnostic test."

So, we can Verify that YES, deaths added from 'routine records check' include people who never officially tested positive for covid-19.

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