WILLIAMSPORT – The Lycoming County coroner is accusing the state Health Department of “Monday morning quarterbacking deaths” in connection with the coronavirus.
Charles E. Kiessling Jr., who also is president of the Pennsylvania State Coroners Association, voiced his opinion Tuesday when asked if he had any information on the two COVID-19 deaths in the county as reported by the Health Department. Kiessling said that he "was shocked upon learning there were two deaths” because none has been reported to him. He checked with the hospitals in the county and previously asked nursing homes to notify him of any deaths, he said.
He plans to ask the state for information because he said as far as he is concerned Lycoming County has had no deaths. He said he believes if a county resident died elsewhere that someone would have notified his office.
In a Facebook message, Kiessling said in his capacity as coroner there are zero “official deaths” in the county...
Sullivan County Coroner Wendy Hastings also is puzzled why the state attributes one death in that county to COVID-19.
She does not know of anyone testing positive in that county let alone dying, she said. She checked with the two medical clinics and funeral directors, she said.
The law requires deaths from infectious diseases to be reported to coroners, Kiessling said. The Health Department is not doing that, he said.
“I think we’re falsely inflating the numbers,” he said, referring to Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine’s explanation during a Tuesday press conference that state data now includes probable cause deaths, which help provide a more complete picture of the COVID-19 situation in the state.
Is an individual who tested positive for the coronavirus, recovers but later dies being listed as a COVID-19 death, he asked.
Another issue Kiessling has with the Health Department is its directive to use the electronic death registry system for COVID-19 cases. He recommends staying with paper death certificates, he said...
The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that Kiessling believes the problem is rooted in the state’s request early on that all medical death certifiers — typically doctors at hospitals, nursing homes or medical examiners — send COVID-19-related death reports to the state electronically, rather than rely on information provided solely by county coroners or medical examiners.
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