State Says COVID Death Toll in 2020 Underreported by Dozens
Hawai‘i has linked 60 new deaths over the past year with COVID-19 complications, according to a report released Monday. None of those fatalities have been included in any of the state’s official virus-related death tallies to date.
The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) said the deaths were linked to COVID-19 after a thorough review of the DOH Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS). The deaths occurred in August through December of 2020 with 51 deaths reported on O‘ahu, six on Hawai‘i, and three on Maui.
A COVID-19 related death may not be identified by DOH if the individual passes away after their monitoring period with DOH has been completed and their healthcare provider did not report the death, the department said in its release.
Unreported deaths can be identified by EDRS if the underlying cause is listed as COVID-19 on the death certificate. However, reviewing death certificates can be a time-intensive process resulting in significant lags, the department continued.
“Our close inspection of death certificates not only revealed 60 previously unreported deaths. It also uncovered flaws that led to delays in the current reporting system,” said Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char. “We are implementing changes to the process that will improve the timeliness of COVID-19 death reporting.”
As of Sunday, a total of 342 COVID-related deaths had been reported by the DOH since the pandemic began.