SIDNEY – The number of COVID-19 deaths reported in Shelby County more than doubled after the Ohio Department of Health reviewed statewide data and discovered it had underreported deaths.
Director Stephanie McCloud said last week that the department had underreported approximately 4,000 COVID-19 deaths across the state. As of Wednesday afternoon, the state reported 16,513 deaths after reporting 12,577 six days prior.
“We have been working with staff to understand the process, the points of entry for death data,” McCloud said during Gov. Mike DeWine’s Feb. 11 press conference. “Much like other states, we have two points of entry when we receive death data, and it’s really the reconciliation of that data that was not done timely, and there was kind of a miss there that created these numbers.”
According to the Ohio Department of Health, process issues affecting the reconciliation and reporting of these deaths began in October. The largest number of underreported deaths were from November and December.
“As we talked about last year with cases, these departments of health, whether local or state, have not really in the past been organized to report things in real time, and that has created some issues,” McCloud said.
According to the revised data, December was by far the deadliest month for COVID-19 in Shelby County. Thirty of the county’s 66 COVID-19 deaths, 45.5%, occurred in December.
Shelby County’s first COVID-19 death was reported in April 2020. There were two deaths reported in May, one in June and one in August for a total of five deaths in the first six months of the pandemic.
In September, deaths spiked in Shelby County with 10 reported. There were six deaths reported in October and eight in November leading up to the 30 in December.
Since the start of 2021, deaths have significantly dropped. Shelby County reported six deaths in January and one so far in February.
There have been 41 COVID-19 deaths among men in Shelby County and 25 deaths among women.
The youngest person to die in Shelby County as a result of COVID-19 was a man in his 30s who died Nov. 28.
The demographic hit hardest by COVID-19 in Shelby County has been men 80 and older with 26 deaths reported in that group, 39.4% of the county’s total.
Other deaths include two women in their 40s, three women in their 50s, four women in their 60s, six women in their 70s, 10 women 80 or older, five men in their 60s and nine men in their 70s.
While no one younger than the age of 30 has died of COVID-19 in Shelby County, some younger residents have been hospitalized because of the disease including two boys younger than 20, two girls younger than 20 and two women in their 20s.
Like Shelby County, other counties in the region have seen spikes in their reported deaths following the Ohio Department of Health’s revisions.
Auglaize County increased from 58 cases reported last week to 95 this week, Champaign County increased from 32 last week to 44 this week, Darke County increased from 102 last week to 120 this week, Logan County increased from 43 last week to 56 this week, and Miami County increased from 132 last week to 175 this week.
“I’m quite confident of the new processes we have in place and the new eyes on this,” McCloud said. “And certainly this will look much different, better and accurate going forward.”
For more information about COVID-19, visit https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/.
Reach the writer at [email protected] or 937-538-4824.