86 additional COVID-related deaths were previously unreported

The Health Department announced Friday that 86 additional COVID-related deaths were previously unreported due to manual data processing errors. The deaths, most of which occurred in 2022 but date as far back as April 2020, included 13 additional deaths in the Northeast Kingdom. The additional deaths were identified through a Health Department review of COVID-19 data that occurred 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 additional NEK deaths include eight from Caledonia County that occurred in 2022 and 5 from Orleans County, one of which was in 2021 and the other 4 in 2022. This bumps the NEK total to at least 96 deaths, with 83 having been previously reported. The counts would now be 44 in Caledonia, 48 in Orleans and 4 in Essex, based on the latest data posted by the Health Department and additional deaths announced Friday morning. There was one newly reported outbreak, defined as three or more linked cases, in Orleans County.