Washington epidemiologists have admitted that multiple victims of gunshot wounds who had also been diagnosed with coronavirus have been counted as COVID-19 deaths, although they say deaths from the virus are still likely being undercounted in the state.
Epidemiologists with the Washington State Department of Health said that the "number of nuances" in coronavirus data makes it difficult to render a quick assessment in the cause of death. The state is currently counting anyone that dies with COVID-19 in its death toll.
"We currently do have some deaths that are being reported that are clearly from other causes. We have about 5 deaths less than 5 deaths that we know of that are related to obvious other causes. In this case, they are from gunshot wounds," said Dr. Katie Hutchison, Health Statistics Manager for the Washington State Department of Health.
The state is currently reviewing between 20 and 30 similar cases to understand what role — if any — coronavirus played in the deaths, Hutchison said, adding the process will take between six and 12 months
"We suspect that we are actually more likely to be undercounting deaths than overcounting them," Hutchison said.
Hutchison said there can be a variation in the accuracy of any data.
"This is a case where we have a commitment to putting out the best and most current data that we have. And with any process that [involves] data particularly, as you're bringing it in in a rapid manner, there is a variation in the accuracy of it. In general, particularly with the information that we have for deaths, there is a very small variance," she said. "And that variance decreases as time goes on and we get more information added into you know our stockpile of information that we have and we're able to clarify and clean the information."
? Washington is currently reporting a little more than 1,000 deaths.