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Iowa Officials Announce Change In Methodology That Raises COVID-19 Death Count By 175

Mika Baumeister
The state announced Monday it will change its methodology for reporting COVID-19 related deaths to align with the CDC.

State officials announced Monday night that they are shifting the way they report COVID-19 deaths, resulting in an increase in 175 deaths.

State health officials have announced they are shifting the way Iowa reports COVID-19 related deaths to align more with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, resulting in the addition of 175 deaths to the state’s coronavirus website Monday evening.

State Department of Public Health Interim Director Kelly Garcia announced Monday evening the state will now report deaths that have been assigned the International Classification of Diseases death code for COVID-19 by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Under the state’s previous methodology, deaths were only reported if they were matched with a positive PCR test in the state’s system. But this left out deaths matched with a positive antigen test or clinically diagnosed cases.

Garcia said the change will more accurately reflect the state’s death count and will allow researchers to compare data across states.

"This information will be helpful for national comparison, and I believe it will also be helpful when we compare causes of death over the course of the entire 2020 calendar year," she said.

"When you look back at years and years to come one year out, five years out, 10 years out, this change will allow us to see an apples to apples comparison of death."

Following Garcia's announcement Monday, the number of reported deaths on the state's coronavirus website went from 2,723 to 2,898.

Garcia said the new methodology means the state's death count will no longer be reported in real time as it can take up to seven days for the CDC to complete the coding of a new case.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter