Following an analysis of COVID-19 data, the Department of Health is reporting a cumulative 86 additional COVID-associated deaths that occurred over the course of the pandemic but had not been previously reported. Most of these deaths occurred in 2022. This brings the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Vermont to 877, as of January 6.
The additional deaths were identified through a Health Department review of COVID-19 data that took place shortly before the holidays. Deaths are reported by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and must be manually entered into the state’s epidemiology surveillance system. An analyst reviewing the data identified several reports that had not been entered, and the Health Department conducted a thorough review. The Department found that, due in part to the reduction in staff capacity as it scaled back from peak emergency operation, some death reports were not processed correctly, resulting in the reporting discrepancy.
“The Health Department is dedicated to consistent surveillance and accurate reporting,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “I regret that these data were not reported in a more timely manner, but it is important to understand that because these deaths occurred over time – and spread across many months from across the state – we are confident this would not have had an impact on the trajectory of the data or on our approach to the pandemic.”
While Vermont’s COVID-19 death rate will now increase from 126 per 100,000 to 140 per 100,000, it is still the lowest in the continental U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Levine said the data team moved quickly to compile, review and enter the additional reports into the surveillance system. The deaths will be included when the Open Geodata Portal is updated Wednesday, January 11, and reflected that day and going forward in the weekly COVID-19 surveillance data report.
“Our data team are among the heroes of Vermont’s pandemic response. Working long days with few days off from the moment we learned of the first case,” said Dr. Levine. “Nonetheless, we are reviewing our systems to ensure data oversights like this one can be avoided, while supporting these dedicated public health workers.”
For more COVID-19 data and other information, visit healthvermont.gov/covid-19.