Video: MN Health Commissioner disputes claim about COVID-19 death reports
Apr 11, 2020 06:35AM
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From WDIO-TV - April 11, 2020
Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm is disputing a state lawmaker's suggestion that her office is including deaths in its COVID-19 death statistics that have not been confirmed by laboratory testing.
Malcolm said during a news conference Thursday that there has been "confusion and misinformation" circulating on social media about what is counted as a COVID-19 death following the remarks by Sen. Scott Jensen. Jensen is a physician in the Twin Cities area.
In a Fargo TV interview, Jensen expressed concern with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control that says suspected or probable cases of COVID-19 should be listed on death certificates even if they haven't been laboratory-confirmed. He called the guidance "concerning" and questioned whether the state was sharing appropriate data.
"Fear is a great way to control people," Jensen said on KXJB-TV's "Point of View" program, after the program's host asked why officials would want to "skew" the numbers. Video of the interview went viral on Facebook.
But Malcolm said Thursday that cases that are not laboratory-confirmed will not be counted as COVID-19 deaths. She said when a death certificate lists a suspected or probable case, the MDH Office of Vital Records follows up to see if laboratory testing was conducted.
Malcolm also said her office cannot change a death certificate without the documentation or involvement of medical certifier. Medical certifiers include physicians, advance practice registered nurses, and physician assistants.
"There is absolutely no policy or political motivation to increase the number of deaths that are reported," Malcolm said.
Malcolm said she had not spoken to Jensen but would like to. She said she assumes there was confusion about the CDC protocol.
MDH reported 50 deaths from COVID-19 in the state as of Thursday. The text at the top of the report reads "data is for cases that were tested and returned positive."
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