Another governor is on the ropes about possibly withholding nursing home COVID-19 death data to help the state’s overall fatality numbers.
Wisconsin health officials over the past two weeks have reported nearly 1,000 additional COVID-related deaths attributed to long-term care facilities after previously having the deaths marked as happening in an “unknown” setting.
Lawmakers have said that the updates have drastically altered the state’s overall COVID-19 death total. The state for months had reported that between 26% and 30% of its COVID-related deaths were affiliated with long-term care, but after accounting for the additional data, that number has jumped to 45%, according to a report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“Had this information been accurately reported in real time, medical personnel could have targeted the limited supply of medical resources available to them toward long-term care facilities,” lawmakers wrote in a letter to Gov. Tony Evers (D) on Monday.
State officials said the change happened after a normal update of the state’s data to ensure its quality. Evers also defended the update saying, “Our local folks got lots of death certificates and death investigations that just had a street name on it.”
“How do we know that is a nursing home? We made sure we were onsite and helping those nursing homes from the get-go,” he told local media Monday.
Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine, President Joe Biden’s pick to become assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, was also grilled in late February about disparities in the state’s in COVID-19 nursing home data.