The newly reported deaths occurred over the past two weeks as state health officials have been working to reconcile data.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Wednesday reported 479 new COVID-19 deaths, raising the state’s overall death toll to more than 2,000.
The newly reported deaths occurred over the past two weeks. State health officials have been working to reconcile data provided by hospitals, health care systems, county and municipal health departments and long-term care facilities with the department’s own records. That resulted in the upward adjustment.
The overall death toll now stands at 2,195 in Pennsylvania. Of those, 2,158 were confirmed by a positive test for the new coronavirus. The other 37 were listed as probable COVID-19 deaths, meaning those people were thought to have contracted the virus based on their symptoms but died before they could be tested.
Some county coroners have accused the health department of publishing inaccurate death statistics. Last week, the health department slashed the official death toll by removing 270 deaths it had counted as probable, saying they were eliminated after further investigation.
“Some of the reconciliation and behind-the-scenes data analysis that takes days and weeks is being done on a regular basis, and that can lead to fluctuations in the data,” health department spokesman Nate Wardle said Wednesday.
“We feel confident that as COVID-19 cases and deaths slow down, the data reported by the department will match that of other data sources, such as county health departments and county coroners,” he said.
More than 1,100 additional people tested positive for the virus, raising the statewide total to more than 44,000, the health department reported.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
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