Massachusetts Dept. Of Public Health Removes Thousands Of Names From COVID Death List

Massachusetts Dept. Of Public Health Removes Thousands Of Names From COVID Death List
March 29, 2022

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health says they are removing 4,081 people off the state’s COVID death list.

State health officials say they are updating the criteria used for identifying COVID-19 deaths to align with guidance from the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologist.

Until mid-March according to published reports, if a person died not from COVID, but had the virus within 60 days of the death, and a cause was not listed, it was deemed a COVID death.

The updated definition reduces this timeframe from 60 days to 30 days for individuals without a COVID diagnosis on their death certificate.

We reached out to Jake Leon, the Director of Communications for DHHS and asked how New Hampshire defines a COVID death he said in part, ” New Hampshire classifies deaths based on death certificate review and requires a person to have COVID-19 listed as a direct or contributing cause of death (on the death certificate) and to have tested positive.

We have not adopted CSTE criteria about counting deaths occurring within 30 days of a COVID-19 diagnosis when COVID is not listed on the death certificate. If there was a suspected COVID-19 related death that wasn’t listed on a death certificate, we would work with a provider to have the death certificate amended.

This is a very objective way of classifying deaths that relies on our vital records system and on the pronouncing provider to help determine cause of death. This is how we’ve conducted COVID-19 death surveillance throughout the pandemic, which is important for trending patterns of disease and severity. It’s also consistent with the way we conduct influenza death surveillance in NH.”