WA analyst: State mislabeled some drug, injury deaths as COVID related

Dec 16, 2020, 4:59 PM
Coronavirus testing, covid deaths...
Drive-thru coronavirus testing at UW Medicine. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Recently it came out that the Washington State Department of Health was going to remove hundreds of names from the COVID-19 death list, because they couldn’t prove that COVID-19 related to these specific deaths. Maxford Nelsen with the Freedom Foundation joined the Dori Monson Show to discuss what types of deaths were wrongly classified, and why he thinks it happened.

“We found cases of people who on the death certificates died from meth overdose, from alcoholic liver disease, there were several cases of death certificates in which the certifier completing the death certificate noted that the person had COVID in the past but had recovered before they died,” he said.

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“Circumstances in which a particularly a number of elderly individuals died after a fall and sustaining, you know, blunt force injuries in a fall. They were counted as COVID deaths because they’ve been previously exposed or had a history of COVID-19. Another elderly woman who, according to her death certificate, was asymptomatic at the time she died. And the death certificate did not suggest that COVID was what caused her death. Dozens and dozens of cases like that show up once we were actually able to review that the actual death certificates.”

Nelsen says that their analysis also discovered that there were 170 death certificates that the Department of Health attributed to COVID-19 that made no reference to the virus whatsoever anywhere in any capacity. When his team first began reporting on this over-counting in spring, Inslee dismissed the claims as conspiracy.

“We were accused by the governor of fanning these flames of conspiracy from the planet Pluto,” he said.

Why does Nelsen think this kind of miscounting occurred?

“On the public health side of the equation, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for public health officials to flag, to cast a very wide net when trying to determine whether a death may have had some role to COVID. This is a new disease, we haven’t dealt with it before. It makes sense that you would want a flag any potential death that may have anything to do with COVID, for the purposes of studying it later or getting more information,” he said.

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His problem is when the state uses those numbers in their announcements as though they are perfectly factual and official.

“Where the problem comes is when state officials like Governor Inslee or even the Department of Health — which puts this out in daily emails — when they say this is the number of people who have died because of COVID-19 … I don’t have a problem with the state casting a wide net if they just want to collect a bunch of data to review and cite,” he said.

“But that approach absolutely inflates the numbers of actual deaths. And it shouldn’t be the one number that the state officials repeatedly used to cite as the definitive number of people who have died because of the virus. It’s just not defensible.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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WA analyst: State mislabeled some drug, injury deaths as COVID related