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West Virginia removes dozens of deaths from COVID-19 count

April 5, 2022 GMT

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia has removed dozens of deaths from its official COVID-19 count after a review found nearly all of them were not related to the coronavirus, health officials said Tuesday.

The Department of Health and Human Resources lowered its death count since the start of the pandemic from 6,839 to 6,716.

The DHHR said Bureau for Public Health epidemiologists completed what it called a reconciliation process for 2021 that looks at all COVID-19 death reports.

Of the 3,948 deaths reported in 2021, 122 deaths, or 3%, were determined not to be virus-related. In addition, five duplicate deaths from last year were identified during the reconciliation process and three additional deaths from 2020 were determined not to be from COVID-19 and taken off the state’s dashboard. The deaths originally were reported to DHHR as virus-related through a death report, but the death certificate later determined the cause was not COVID-19, the department said.

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The latest count also includes seven additional deaths reported since Monday, DHHR said.

On Tuesday there were 263 active cases of COVID-19 statewide, the lowest since the first full month of the pandemic in early 2020. Gov. Jim Justice warned against complacency, because the omicron descendant BA.2 has sparked a new wave of infections in other parts of the world.

“Whatever we do, we can’t drop our guard,” Justice said. “We’ve already seen this play out many times before. A new variant will show up on another continent, then it makes its way to California or New York, and, eventually, we end up dealing with it in West Virginia.”