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Nursing Home Reports Suggest Georgia Is Undercounting COVID Deaths

Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

On Jan. 11, Oconee County’s St. Gabriel of Athens personal care home off Virgil Langford Road reported to the Department of Community Health its first two deaths from COVID-19 among its residents.

On Jan. 20, St. Gabriel’s reported three more deaths from COVID-19, and on Jan. 26 it reported one more death.

The next day, Jan. 27, it reported two more, bringing its total to eight.

On Jan. 22, Oconee County’s St. Mary’s Highland Hills Village personal care home, 1660 Jennings Mill Road, reported to the Department of Community Health the death of one of its residents from COVID-19.

These nine deaths all appeared in the Department of Community Health’s Long-Term Care Facility Report, released online each weekday by the Georgia Department of Public Health, which keeps the official state record of “confirmed” deaths from COVID-19.The Department of Public Health, in its Daily Status Report, however, listed no “confirmed death” in Oconee County on Jan. 11, only one on Jan. 20, none on Jan. 22, none on Jan. 26 and only one on Jan. 27—the days when St. Gabriel and St. Mary’s reported their nine deaths.

That discrepancy between the death counts of the Department of Community Health and the death counts of the Department of Public Health—in evidence in Oconee County since the first of the year—has been present in the Northeast Health District since the outbreak of the pandemic a year ago.

It also is mirrored in current questions about the number of nursing home deaths in New York and elsewhere around the country.

For more, visit Oconee County Observations.