Presumed cases may be added to official COVID-19 death toll


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Senior advisers with the Oregon Health Authority have discussed adding “presumed” COVID-19 cases to the state’s death toll.

To date, the state has only logged deceased Oregonians who tested positive for the virus.

Testing shortages have substantially limited the amount of non-hospitalized patients who can be tested. Thus, the death toll has not reflected the number of victims who died from COVID-19 but never recorded a positive test.

State officials have not indicated when the potential adjustment would be implemented.

“A decision hasn’t been made on the timing of those additional ‘presumed cases,'” said Johnathon Modie of the Oregon COVID-19 Joint Information Center. “More information could be coming in the next few days.”

The Centers for Disease Control began including “probable” COVID-19 deaths into its tally last week. According to the CDC, a presumed or probably death is one that meets clinical criteria, such as symptoms and evidence of the disease, even though there was no official test.

By adding presumed cases, the death toll will inflate, but by how much is unknown. New York City also made the move to include presumptive cases last week, and as a result, the number of people killed by the virus jumped to more than 10,000. Additionally, the change increased the overall United States death count by 17% to more than 26,000.

Oregon health officials are expected to make an announcement on whether to count presumed cases within the next few days.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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