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By Alyssa Erdley
News with Attitude 

How Many People Have Actually Died from Covid-19 in Los Angeles County?

Health officials' slippery definition of a "Covid-associated" death inflates the number of residents who have died of the disease

 

August 26, 2022

Screenshot from media briefing

Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health is not a medical doctor nor has any expertise in epidemiology

August 22, 2022 - The Los Angeles County Public Health Department claims that 31,291 residents have died of Covid-19 as of August 22 since the pandemic began in March, 2020. But have that many people actually died from the effects of becoming infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus? Given the loose definition health officials use for a Covid death, it is not at all clear.

"We don't categorize deaths as 'because of' Covid vs. 'with Covid,' health officals wrote us. "All Covid deaths reported by LACDPH were determined to be Covid-associated."

Okay, so what does "Covid-associated" mean?

LADPH's most recent response to our query about the criteria for calling something a Covid death defines "Covid-associated" as needing two factors involved. One facter is that the deceased had confirmed molecular laboratory evidence for SARS-CoV-2. The second factor could be one of two things. A) A case investigation determined that COVID-19 was "the cause of death or contributed to the death" and also there had been a positive Covid test less than 30 days before the death. Or B) The death certificate indicates COVID-19 as one of the causes of death regardless of the time elapsed since a positive Covid test.

Needless to say, this definition of a Covid death is not very tight. Covid-19 only has to "contribute" to the death. In an earlier response to a request for information about Covid-death criteria, health officials admitted, "It is often difficult to know the role covid played with someone dies of a potential secondary complication." At this time, health officials admitted that "it is likely that some of those deaths [those reported as from Covid) are not the result of covid," but said they assumed that the overcount was balanced by Covid deaths that had not been reported to public health.

Quite an assumption.

LADPH

On the date shown, December 31, 2021, the county claimed (and continues to claim) that 27,637 deaths had occurred.

Following publicity about the over-broad definition of Covid death, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health, showed a slide at a media briefing in which she claimed she had determined Covid as the "underlying" cause of death. This brought the death count down from 27,637 to 24,947. However, Ferrer did not change the Covid death count from official website statistics, and it remains at the inflated number.

Currently, the deaths "associated" with Covid and added to the count often involve what health officials call "underlying conditions." This summer, from June 29 through August 5, of the 171 deaths, 150 had underlying conditions. In other words 87.7% of the deaths "associated with Covid" involved underlying conditions of unknown severity. How many of those deaths would have occurred whether or not Covid had been involved? The health department isn't interested in discovering that information.

Or, more likely, they are not interested in admitting it to the public.

 

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