The number of COVID-19-related deaths in Massachusetts is expected to drop by nearly 4,000 as the state adopts a new method of counting deaths that public health officials say more accurately reflects the impact of the pandemic.
The state’s current definition of death from COVID-19 includes not only those with the illness listed as the cause of death on their death certificate, but also anyone who was diagnosed with COVID-19 within 60 days of their death, according to the Department of Public Health. state healthcare. announced Thursday.
The updated definition reduces the time in the latter category from 60 days to 30 days.
The change is based on recommendations from the State Council and territorial epidemiologists in collaboration with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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“In Massachusetts, our definition is consistently broader than in most other states,” state epidemiologist Dr. Katherine Brown said in a statement. “After looking deeply into our data and examining thousands of death certificates, we acknowledge that this updated definition gives us a truer picture of COVID-19-related mortality.”
As a result, 4,081 deaths in Massachusetts that were previously thought to be related to COVID-19 will be removed, and about 400 deaths that were not previously counted but were identified in the process of matching death certificates to medical records, for a total decrease of about 3,700, the department said.
As of Thursday, the state’s confirmed and probable coronavirus deaths stood at about 23,700, according to the department, and under the new tally method on Monday, the number of confirmed and probable coronavirus deaths will drop to 20,000, Brown said. The department is still finalizing the new numbers.