Why Texas' publicly reported COVID-19 death rates are likely too low

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The COVID-19 death rate data publicly reported in Texas may be skewed lower than the actual death rate, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle.

Texas publicly reports just confirmed COVID-19 deaths, which means patients who die before undergoing COVID-19 screening are not included in those counts. Many individuals who die at home do not undergo an autopsy to reveal whether they had the coronavirus, and with testing shortages in the state, others have likely died before being tested.

There have been other issues with reported death rates as well. There has been a lag in counting COVID-19-related deaths, especially for patients who die several weeks after they test positive. The Chronicle also reported that the time between a person dying and having that death recorded and updated in publicly reported statistics could be several weeks.

An unnamed physician from HCA Healthcare Northwest told the Chronicle that a death certificate signed on June 30 that had a confirmed COVID-19 test had not been reported among the COVID-19 deaths as of July 9.

Twenty-six states account for the difference between confirmed and potential COVID-19 cases by reporting "probable" cases and deaths. Texas is one of 24 states that does not and is currently ranked as the No. 12 state with the most COVID-19 confirmed deaths with 3,112, according to the CDC's data updated July 12.

The CDC's tracker compares the states reporting probable COVID-19 deaths with those that don't in their rankings, and around 20 percent of the total deaths in New York City are considered "probable."

More articles on data analytics:
Florida's COVID-19 dashboard now reports hospitalizations
Texas Medical Center removes 'unsustainable surge capacity' label from data charts as it approaches those levels
Texas COVID-19 data may be skewed by untested at-home deaths


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