Nationwide reporting venture to reveal COVID’s hidden deaths


Map of mortality displacement by quartile.Credits: Boston University School of Public Health

Dr. Andrew Stokes, an assistant professor of global health, has collaborated with the Documenting COVID-19 project and Muckrock to identify underreported COVID-19 mortality ranges in US counties. Provides modeling.

When the official US COVID-19 deaths exceed 805,000, Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers work with a team of investigative journalists and scholars to hide the COVID-19 mortality rate. Understand the aspects of direct and indirect death. It is excluded from the pandemic not due to COVID-19 and therefore from the official total number of COVID-19 deaths.

Dr. Andrew Stokes, Global Associate Professor health BUSPH investigated the COVID-19 mortality rate throughout the pandemic, and the number of COVID deaths in the United States could be much higher than the records show, with almost all uncounted deaths being home. These findings show that about 20% of excess deaths, or more deaths than expected in normal years, are not reflected in the COVID-19 deaths in US counties. These hidden deaths appear to occur more frequently in counties with fewer primary care physicians, less access to health insurance, and more home deaths, and are disproportionate among color communities.

Dr. Stokes is from the Documenting COVID-19 project, an online repository of local, state, and federal public records obtained through a request for public records by a reporter at the Brown Institute, and his work on a multifaceted initiative. Sharing data and modeling. For media innovation and joint news site Muckrock. Journalists working on the project are using this data and modeling to guide field reports in rural counties across the United States to reveal the true extent of underreported COVID-19 deaths. increase.They are recording a series of findings USA Today Next year’s article.

“Accurate and timely mortality monitoring is essential for pandemic preparedness and response efforts,” said a team of researchers from BUSPH, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in mortality rates in more than 3,000 counties in the United States. Dr. Stokes, who analyzed the data, said. .. “Without accurate mortality data, it can be very difficult to devise effective policy responses or develop fair and equitable responses to the most influential communities.”

The first two articles of USA Today Published December 9 and December 22, the series includes national data and society related to excess mortality, including previously underestimated findings in the provinces of Louisiana, Missouri, and Mississippi. Examine target and racial inequality. Subsequent articles will delve deeper into these hidden deaths at the local level in other US counties with the aim of understanding why and how these deaths are excluded from official COVID records in each region.

The documentation of COVID-19 also relies on the knowledge and expertise of local journalists, public health researchers, community organizations, medical examiners, medical examiners, and the general public, and invites people to participate in this initiative. I am urging you. The team will soon release a “report recipe” (a set of journalists is available to support their own local report on COVID mortality) and an open access form for the online platform AirTable. Anyone can review, upload, or share this form. Tips for their thoughts and stories about these hidden deaths. Anyone who shares information on the database has the option of sharing anonymously. Dozens of reporters have already participated in this effort.

“Using the data and modeling provided by Dr. Stokes’ team, we continue to report on underrated deaths in the region to explain why these gaps are occurring because the reasons vary from region to region. We do, “said Dillon Bergin. , Muckrock investigative journalist and part of the Documenting COVID-19 project USA Today series. “We want to help reporters find stories, so we’ve also built a core set of tools to help local newsgroups find and investigate local data, but they may not have the resources to do it. “”

The fact that so many of these countless deaths occur at home and testing is not the most prevalent hospital setting is a factor that requires further investigation, says Dr. Stokes. ..

“Many underreports seem to focus on deaths that occur at home with very limited testing. In these cases, the cause of death is often assigned to other conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. “He says. “Many people are afraid to go to the hospital and get infected with COVID or lose contact with their loved ones, so they get sick and stay home, die without dying, as COVID’s death. It will not be reported. “

Underestimation of death from COVID also has political implications, says Dr. Stokes. Since most death investigations are conducted at the county level, the official cause of death is often determined by elected coroners who may be motivated by political prejudices that downplay the pandemic (usually). , Less formal training than a coroner).

“If we find evidence of underreporting in the community, we have a direct link to the county coroner or inspector responsible for proving their death,” says Dr. Stokes. “Our focus on the county means that the quote has a direct impact on the county. death Survey system. ”

Dying at home, lack of health care contributes to the hidden death toll of COVID

For more information:
Andrew C. Stokes et al, COVID-19 and US Mortality Displacement: County Level Analysis, PLOS medicine (2021). DOI: 10.1371 / journal.pmed.1003571

Andrew C. Stokes et al, Association of Medical Factors with Excessive Death Not Assigned to COVID-19 in the United States, JAMA network open (2021). DOI: 10.1001 / jamanetworkopen.2021.25287

Andrew C. Stokes et al, COVID-19 Excessive Death During Pandemic: Impact on US Death Investigation System, American Journal of Public Health (2021). DOI: 10.2105 / AJPH.2021.306331

Documentation of the COVID-19 project:

AirTable form:

Quote: A national reporting venture to reveal the hidden death of COVID (December 22, 2021) is https: // Obtained December 22, 2021 from hidden.html

This document is subject to copyright. No part may be reproduced without written permission, except for fair transactions for personal investigation or research purposes. Content is provided for informational purposes only.

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