Harrison working to align county, state COVID death numbers

CADIZ — Harrison County Health Department is working to ensure that the number of COVID-related deaths in the county is recorded correctly by the state.

Officials said the discrepancy between the number of deaths reported by the county and the number reported by the state at coronavirus.ohio.gov is due to a clerical error that the department is working to correct. For several days, the state of Ohio has been reporting the county’s COVID-19 deaths at eight, while the county had reported 16 deaths associated with the coronavirus as of Friday.

Garen Rhome, administrator of the county’s health department, said the difference in the two agencies’ reports is due to an oversight made by the Harrison County Health Department when filling out the disease reporting system forms for some of the county’s deaths.

Rhome said the discovery was made after he reached out to the Ohio Department of Health for advice on how to correct the problem. Last week, the state’s data team explained what the issue was, he said.

“It’s been going on for quite some time. … There was just a disconnect between us locally and the ODH support team. The mistake was just us not checking the right boxes. So we would report it locally, we would check the boxes in the disease reporting system thinking that we did it accurately, but it was not,” he said.

The state’s data will reflect the correct number of deaths once the local health department goes back through the reports and corrects the data sheets for each death.

“We have to go back and look at the date of deaths so we can report it accurately and appropriately on the ODH timeline. That’s why it hasn’t been corrected yet,” he said.

Once the corrections are made, the state’s numbers will reflect the county’s numbers, Rhome said.

Meanwhile, the county’s active cases have decreased significantly in the past few days, dropping from nearly 250 active cases on Wednesday to only 55 active cases on Thursday. Rhome said that since the department has been seeing fewer positive cases and close contacts of infected people lately, it was able to bring its internal database completely up to date. Many individuals had been notified that they had completed quarantine and were considered recovered, but due to a steep rise in cases in December, the department was just recently able to report the recoveries officially to the public.

“We had so many cases through December. … We’ve had fewer cases and fewer contact tracing in the last few days, so it allowed us to bring our public database up to date. We have been in constant contact with the individuals, and they were notified when their quarantine date was up. It was just a matter of us being able to update the system,” he said.


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