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Medical Examiner's Office investigating about 250 deaths initially reported to be COVID-19 related

Posted at 9:32 PM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 23:32:50-05

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — About 250 deaths thought to be related to COVID-19 are currently being investigated by the Utah Medical Examiner’s Office. At least one death dates back to early November, according to Utah Department of Health spokesperson Tom Hudachko.

Contrary to popular belief, the state’s Medical Examiner’s Office isn’t performing autopsies confirming the cause of death is COVID-19 for each person.

“The biggest challenge right now is the workload,” said Hudachko.

Instead, staff comb through data for COVID-19 related deaths, then double check with a doctor or funeral home while requesting health records. It takes roughly 10 days before showing up on the state’s daily tally.

“Some cases, it takes several weeks. Some cases, it takes several days but there is definitely a window there in terms of how long these investigations take to complete,” said Hudachko.

The sheer number of pending COVID related deaths suggests the public isn’t getting full picture of pandemic’s magnitude.

Hudachko says it could take until 2022 or later to know exactly how the severity of COVID-19 in Utah when an annual death report is finalized.