A new report discovered Washington state’s Department of Health (DOH) is inflating its COVID-19 death totals “by potentially hundreds of deaths,” despite being reprimanded over the summer for similar errors.
Analyzing more than 2000 death certificates from as early as September, investigators at Freedom Foundation found that 170 so-called COVID deaths listed no reference to the virus, while another 171 death certificates simply listed COVID-19 as a “possible contributing factor,” but not a direct cause of death.
These results follow a Freedom Foundation report from May which noted that the state was overreporting COVID-19 cases by up to 13 percent by counting anyone who “tests positive for COVID-19 and subsequently dies” as a coronavirus death.
While the DOH and Gov. Jay Inslee originally denied the allegations, calling them “disgusting” and “malarkey,” the DOH “announced it would remove some deaths from its tally and start providing more detailed information about deaths attributed to COVID-19.” The overreporting, however, continued despite promises of change.
“Make no mistake. This isn’t an innocent accounting error we’re talking about,” said Aaron Withe, Freedom Foundation National Director. “This is a state agency under the authority of Gov. Jay Inslee that continues to misrepresent the number of people who have died of COVID even after it was already caught doing the same thing.”
“It’s a nakedly political act intended to scare the public into letting him continue to abuse the almost unlimited ’emergency powers’ that have needlessly bankrupted thousands of Washington businesses and thrown tens of thousands of its residents out of work,” he added.
Shortly after the Freedom Foundation’s second report about COVID-19 death inflation surfaced, the DOH announced more changes to its COVID-19 death tallies, but researchers remain skeptical.
“Assuming DOH actually keeps its promise this time, the changes it has announced are certainly a step in the right direction,” said Freedom Foundation Labor Policy Director Maxford Nelsen, who conducted the investigation. “But even so, our research strongly suggests DOH will still be attributing an unreasonably high number of deaths to COVID-19.”
Other states have reportedly boosted their number of recorded coronavirus deaths.