Texas COVID-19 data may be skewed by untested at-home deaths

Laura Dyrda (Twitter) - Print  | 

Texas has encountered a similar problem to New York when the state was experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases: Individuals who died at home are not always tested for COVID-19, skewing the data on deaths related to the coronavirus.

The Texas Tribune reported a spike in at-home deaths in Houston may be caused by the coronavirus. Only a fraction of the individuals who die at home undergo an autopsy, which would identify whether they had COVID-19 at the time of death. Those who do undergo an autopsy and have the coronavirus aren't added to statewide data until several days after their death.

The report notes that the uptick in at-home deaths illustrates why the "virus's toll may be deeper than what appears in official death tallies and hospitalization reports."

Some of the at-home deaths can be attributed to individuals who decide not to go to the hospital during emergencies due to the fear of contracting COVID-19. In Houston, the number of at-home deaths attributed to COVID-19 increased from six in May to 19 in June, but those numbers are far from comprehensive, according to the report. Since February, the Houston Fire Department reported a 45 percent increase in at-home deaths for calls related to cardiac arrest.

The individuals with serious underlying conditions who die at home also may not be tested.

More articles on data analytics:
Microsoft Azure launches medical data-mining tool
US management of coronavirus data is 'not as robust as it should be,' CMS chief says
San Diego can't keep up with contact tracing efforts during surge

 

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