Health officials in Alameda County, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area, are now reporting out approximately 25 percent less COVID-19 deaths to reflect using the State’s death reporting definition.
Aligning with the State’s definition will require Alameda County to report as COVID-19 deaths only
those people who died as a direct result of COVID-19, with COVID-19 as a contributing cause of death, or in whom death caused by COVID-19 could not be ruled out. Based on data available as of May 23, 2021, this update will decrease the overall number of deaths from 1,634 to 1,223.
Prior to this, Alameda County included any person who died while infected with the virus in the total COVID-19 deaths for the County.
For example, health officials use the following scenario: Using the older definition of COVID-19
deaths, a resident who had COVID-19 but died due to another cause, like a car accident, this person would be included in the total number of reported COVID-19 deaths for Alameda County. Under the updated definition of COVID-19 deaths, this person would not be included in the total because COVID-19 was not a contributing factor in the death.
Cause of death is routinely determined by medical providers or the County Coroner, not by County Public Health Department disease surveillance staff. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused nearly 600,000 deaths in the United States, the vast majority of infections do not result in death, and deaths due to other causes while infected with COVID-19 are not uncommon. It is important to accurately report deaths due to COVID-19 so that residents and health officials have a more precise understanding of the impact of the pandemic and response actions in our community.