CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - There are new questions arising about the accuracy of the coronavirus numbers being reported in Virginia, especially when it comes to the number of people who have died.
One example from Cedars Healthcare Center (CHC), a nursing home in Charlottesville, highlights the problem and begs for questions that are not yet being answered.
With 13 fatalities, 16 hospitalizations, and 85 total cases, CHC represents one of the most vulnerable populations in Charlottesville that has been hit hard by COVID-19. However, those fatality numbers are nowhere to be seen on the Virginia Department of Health’s long-term care outbreak reports.
According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) website, if fewer than 5 cases are associated with a facility, the counts will be represented by an asterisk in order to preserve patient anonymity.
“If there are 5 or more fatalities in a facility, the numbers will be on the VDH page,” said Thomas Jefferson Health District Spokesperson Kathryn Goodman.
Unfortunately, that has not happened even over 24 hours after the 13 resident deaths were confirmed by the parent company, CommuniCare, on Tuesday, July 28.
Even in Charlottesville’s totals the death toll only stands at 8. NBC29 reached out to VDH officials in Richmond to find out why. VDH Spokesperson Tammie Smith said that she believes it is due to a lag on the website, but needed to double check.
In April, the VDH followed a state code prohibiting the health department from releasing information on individual facilities to the media, unless the facility agrees.
On June 19, Governor Ralph Northam directed the VDH to make a change. Now, facility-specific data about cases and deaths in long-term care facilities are public, regardless of permission, but there’s a catch. “Facilities also aren’t required to report fatalities to us,” Goodman said.
This raises new questions: How accurate are the VDH’s statistics? What are the real numbers? Why are there only 8 COVID-19 fatalities total reported in Charlottesville if there are 13 deaths in connection with the coronavirus outbreak confirmed by Cedars?
NBC29 was not given any definite answers, but we are dedicated to seeking out the truth.