Change in How Coronavirus Deaths Are Counted Reduces North Dakota’s Total of People Killed by the Virus by 40 Percent

A member of the North Dakota Health Department testing drive-thru scans the area before making his way to the next vehicle to continue testing the public for COVID-19 (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

MINOT, N.D. — In my last mailbag column I responded to a reader question about deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic by noting that how those deaths are calculated from state to state.

In North Dakota, the Department of Health has been publishing a number that represents people “who died from any cause while infected with COVID-19.”

That means the total the state releases, and which is subsequently reported by people like me, is going to include deaths that may not be directly attributable to the pandemic.

With so much public debate taking place over the severity of this outbreak, and the risks involved with reopening our economy, some have said that this methodology can inflate the death count and thus the perceived severity of the virus.

Thankfully, the Department of Health has now addressed that issue with more data.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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