Providence, R.I. (NewsNation)- About 10% of people counted in Rhode Island’s official coronavirus-associated death total didn’t die from COVID-19, state health officials said.
NewsNation affiliate WPRI reported that out of 1,027 deaths, about 103 people died for reasons not related to coronavirus — such as a car crash — but tested positive for the disease, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health.
Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the state’s health director, said the department has begun investigating the deaths not directly caused by COVID-19.
The remaining 924 deaths had direct ties to the disease and include those with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer or asthma.
Alexander-Scott said that more accurate reporting would increase understanding and transparency about the public health crisis.
Rhode Island isn’t the only state that doesn’t separate out these fatalities from their official totals. Connecticut and Massachusetts don’t make the distinction.
Texas and Colorado are among the states that don’t count unrelated deaths in their totals. Texas only counts deaths where COVID-19 is listed on the death certificate. Colorado separates its data into “deaths among cases” and “deaths due to COVID-19.”
The official federal standard for a “coronavirus-associated death” includes anyone who dies after recently testing positive with the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t require states to make a distinction on unrelated deaths.