New COVID-19 report reveals state erred in reporting death of 11-year-old in DeKalb CountyThis transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name. Public domain image obtained via https://www.niaid.nih.gov/news-events/novel-coronavirus-sarscov2-images
Atlanta, GA – An April 2 report from the Georgia Department of Public Health about COVID-19 contained information that shocked and saddened our readers.
The report, provided at 7 p.m. on April 2, said an 11-year-old in DeKalb County with underlying conditions had died, but that report was a mistake, a spokesperson for the Health Department said.
“It appears that it was a clerical error by the reporting facility,” the spokesperson said. “After a review of medical records and a number of phone calls, there is no record of an 11-year-old dying from COVID-19.”
The spokesperson said errors in reporting COVID-19 data are not uncommon.
“It happens – I haven’t seen it quite so obvious, or unfortunate, with an age,” the spokesperson said. “Sometimes the wrong county is entered, and you might see a county with one total one day and then it goes down the next due to the correction being made.”
Decaturish and other media outlets reported the story and Decaturish has updated its original story. During this stressful time, we know accurate information is critical and that mistakes erode the trust you place in us. While we take responsibility for everything we publish, our COVID-19 stories are more reliant on government sources than other stories we cover. The data provided by the state is difficult to independently verify due to medical privacy laws. After the story was published, a reporter reached out to the county Medical Examiner. Medical Examiner’s Office Director Patrick Bailey said that that office wouldn’t necessarily receive a report about a COVID-19 death.
“A review of our records did not indicate this case was reported to our office,” Bailey said. “However, if the child had been in a medical facility for more than 24 hours and had a documented medical history, which may have included a COVID-19 diagnosis, it would not be a reportable case to a Medical Examiners and/or Coroners Office. Additionally, if there were no reported or observed traumatic injuries and/or suspicious circumstances, no reporting is required.”
Bailey said not all deaths are required to be reported to the Medical Examiner.
“Under the Georgia Death Investigation Act, not all deaths are required to be reported,” Bailey said. “Simply, if someone is in a medical facility and is receiving care from a physician, it currently is not required to be reported to a Medical Examiner or Coroner’s Office. The only exception is if the decedent was admitted due to no known documented medical history, traumatic, unusual, and/or suspicious circumstances.”
A spokesperson for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta informed Decaturish the information about the 11-year-old boy had been removed when a reporter asked for additional information.
Last month, Decaturish published an editorial noting that due to the pace and scope of this event, there would be mistakes in coverage. This is true for any media outlet covering this unprecedented event.
To prevent additional erroneous reports about fatalities, we will take the following steps to improve our coverage.
1) All reports will now contain a caveat that the information is being provided by the Department of Public Health is presumed to be accurate.
2) Any report of a minor dying from COVID-19 will receive additional reporting follow up, if possible, to determine whether that report is in error. These reports will no longer be the focus of a story until they are independently verified.
3) The state provides information about COVID-19 deaths twice a day: at noon and at 7 p.m. We will stop publishing two articles a day about the state’s COVID-19 cases and deaths and will instead write one article per day. That article will reflect the information contained in the state’s mid-day COVID-19 report. This will change the frequency of our reporting from two stories every 24-hours to one story every 24-hours. We hope this will give the state extra time to sift through and correct any errors in its data. It will also give us additional time to further investigate any reports that we have questions about. These sorts of inquiries are easier to conduct in the morning when people are more likely to answer their phones and respond to emails.
We realize that this will mean other media outlets will have certain stories before we do, but we think this is a necessary step to take to limit future errors in our coverage. Unfortunately, there will be errors in the future as there are with any breaking news story. All errors will be corrected immediately and prominently. While our fact-checking process is rigid, there are variables with this particular story that we cannot account for. Any errors in our reporting will make us reassess how we are covering this story and will help us improve our coverage going forward.
With that said, here’s the Health Department’s most recent COVID-19 report, published at noon on April 3. These updates rely on data provided by the state of Georgia about COVID-19 cases and that information is presumed to be accurate.
There are now 5,831 COVID-19 cases in Georgia. There have been 184 COVID-19 related deaths and 1,158 hospitalizations related to the virus.
There have been eight deaths in DeKalb County.
|COVID-19 Confirmed Cases:||No. Cases (%)|
|COVID-19 Confirmed Cases By County:||No. Cases||No. Deaths|
|*Based on patient county of residence when known|
|COVID-19 Testing By Lab Type:||No. Pos. Tests||Total Tests|
COVID-19 Deaths in Georgia
Coronavirus symptoms can appear two to 14 days after exposure and include:
– Shortness of breath
The CDC says the following symptoms require emergency medical attention:
– Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
– Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
– New confusion or inability to arouse
– Bluish lips or face
Here are the recommendations on coronavirus prevention from the DeKalb County Board of Health:
– Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
– Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
– Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
– Stay home when you are sick.
– Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash.
– Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
For more information from the Centers for Disease Control, click here.
Decaturish.com is working to keep your community informed about coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. All of our coverage on this topic can be found at Decaturishscrubs.com. If you appreciate our work on this story, please become a paying supporter. For as little as $3 a month, you can help us keep you in the loop about what your community is doing to stop the spread of COVID-19. To become a supporter, click here.
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