"DSHS will have new reporting on fatalities" by: Mike Reddell

   A sharp change in the number of COVID-19 deaths in Matagorda County was noted when the number of certified deaths went from five Monday, July 27, to 19 on Tuesday, July 28. 
   “There is no longer a backlog of COVID fatalities being investigated,” said Mitch Thames, Matagorda County Public Information Officer. 
   The Texas Department of Health Services (DSHS) is now counting deaths marked on death certificates as caused by COVID-19.  
   Previously, DSHS relied on local and regional public health departments to verify and report deaths. 
   “EOC’s estimate of deaths under investigation simply reflects the number of cases we know of and may not include information on residents who pass away at home, in LTACHs, SNFs, or nursing homes, or anywhere outside of our county,” Thames earlier had said.  
   Using death certificates instead of a medical records review to certify COVID-19 fatalities is a new procedure, said Aaron Fox, Chief Business Development Officer and Public Information Officer, Matagorda County Hospital District. 
   “It is important to note that death certificates are electronically submitted by the certifier and are not a part of the patient’s chart or medical record locally,” Fox added. 
   Fox also noted that death certificates are not public record for 25 years in Texas.  
   “Because of these and other reasons, such as out-of-county deaths and deaths outside of our health system, Matagorda County Health Officials cannot and will not attempt to disclose any information such as gender, age, or disposition assumed to be on the death certificate of patients likely to be included in DSHS’ certified COVID-19 fatality case count.” 

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