Maricopa County Health Officials Object To COVID-19 Headline

Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, Medical Director of Maricopa County Disease Control

Related article: Maricopa County Health Official Admits Manipulating COVID-19 Deaths

I’m responding to you from the Maricopa County Joint Information Center (JIC).

We saw your story Maricopa County Health Official Admits Manipulating COVID-19 Deaths in the Arizona Daily Independent published on August 30, 2020. It appears you based your story on the August 19, 2020 press conference and a statement given to a different media outlet. I’m providing some additional information that may help clarify how Maricopa County determines COVID-19 associated deaths.

Maricopa County is currently reporting 2,960 deaths associated with COVID-19, which amounts to deaths in about 2% of all known cases. At this point in the pandemic, this is our best estimate, based on a review of death certificate information and laboratory test results.

In order to capture most of the deaths associated with COVID-19, those who die within 60 days of a positive PCR test for COVID-19 are included in COVID-associated deaths by Maricopa County Public Health. This is just the initial count, but we don’t stop there.

On a monthly basis, epidemiologists are reviewing and removing deaths due to injury or poisoning (which would include car accidents, gunshots and overdoses). These are deaths in which it is clear that COVID-19 is not a related cause. This is an important part of making sure we are not overcounting deaths. As of this week, there have been just 7 deaths due to injury or poisoning, which is .02% of the total deaths caused by or associated with COVID-19. Public Health will continue to remove these types of deaths and revise death counts as this process is repeated over the course of the pandemic.

This is not “manipulating” data, this is disease surveillance. It’s important to emphasize Public Health will not have a final count of deaths caused by and associated with COVID-19 until after the pandemic.

If you require any additional information, please reach out to us directly at CAOMedia@maricopa.gov. We are happy to assist you.

Thank you,
Fields Moseley
Maricopa County Communications Director

EDITOR’S NOTE: Maricopa County does not dispute the accuracy of the ADI report. They have taken exception to the use of the word “manipulation.”

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Under the leadership of Editor in Chief Huey Freeman, the Editorial Board of the Arizona Daily Independent offers readers an opportunity to comment on current events and the pressing issues of the day. Occasionally, the Board weighs-in on issues of concern for the residents of Arizona and the US.