State’s data portal under reports COVID-19 deaths; will review procedure

Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 7:50 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa’s data portal for COVID-19 under reports the number of deaths in some counties around the state.

KCRG-TV9′s i9 Investigative Unit found the Appanoose County Health Department reported 27 deaths in the county, as of Wednesday. But, the state’s data portal reported 9 deaths.

A similar discrepancy occurred in Linn County. The Linn County Public Health Department reported 183 deaths, as of Wednesday. The state’s data portal reported 162 deaths.

Tricia Kitzmann, who is a spokesperson for Linn County Public Health Department, said it is looking into why the state’s dashboard reflects a fewer number of deaths than its dashboard.

She said in an email the county and state use different data collection methods.

“Due to slightly different data collection and validation methods at the state and local levels, the case count information will probably always reflect different totals at any given time until enough time elapses where the state data can catch up with the local data,” she said.

Governor Kim Reynolds told TV9 the state validates and confirms death certificates before counting a death.

“A lot of times it’s the lag in the death certificates coming and how it’s reported and any information that we then need to confirm with a Positive PCR,” she said.

The positive PCR test is an important threshold because it means those who died from the virus and didn’t have a positive PCR test are not counted as a death.

A spokesperson for the Governor’s Office told TV9 a number of other states count deaths this way as well, but there’s no national standard. He said Iowa is currently reviewing its procedure and says its policy is likely to change as antigen tests become more widely used.

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