‘It’s just plain awful’: 70 West Virginia healthcare facilities failed to report COVID-19 deaths, governor says

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WTRF) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced Wednesday that 70 healthcare facilities across the state have not reported some COVID-19 deaths.

“This is totally unacceptable in every way,” the governor said. “How in the world could we have 168 great West Virginians that we just passed by. It’s awful. It’s just plain awful.”

State Health Officer Dr. Ayne Amjad, M.D., said the facilities span across 30 counties.

“How can we just let that go?” Justice asked. “I’m not going to tolerate this on my watch.”

The governor said 168 deaths related to COVID-19, including some West Virginians who died at home, went previously unreported by hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospices. Two who died after being transported to hospitals from jail facilities were also unreported.

Half of the facilities that failed to report deaths were hospitals, Justice said.

Amjad said the facilities did not follow the protocols for reporting COVID-19 related deaths that were set in April 2020. She said the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources learned about the unreported deaths when the death certificates started coming to the organization’s vital registration endpoint.

“Right now, we are very disappointed that these facilities have not done this accurately,” Amjad said.

Amjad added that the state will be contacting those facilities to help them manage the issue.

Justice says state health officials will be investigating and disciplinary actions could be taken.

Justice, who reads each COVID-19 death at the beginning of his coronavirus briefings, plans on Friday to honor those who died but were unreported.

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