Florida audit report finds 3,000 COVID-19 deaths missing from state data
- An audit has found errors in the number of COVID-19 deaths that were reported
- The report analysed data from three government bodies
- Over 3,000 deaths were not included in the state’s official records
A recent audit conducted in Florida, United States, has found errors in the number of COVID-19 deaths that were reported during the first year of the pandemic, highlighting that thousands of deaths went uncounted in the state, according to a report by Newsweek.
The report by Florida Auditor General Sherrill Norman analyzed data from three government bodies; the Department of Health, the Agency for Health Care Administration, and the Division of Emergency Management.
Auditors of the report discovered that the state’s COVID-19 data was so poorly recorded that government officials failed to monitor the efficacy of their policies that aimed to contain the outbreak. They also found that the results of many COVID-19 tests were not provided, important details such as the ethnic background of patients were not recorded, and contact tracing was poorly carried out within the state.
The auditors found that deaths caused by COVID-19 were undercounted and medical data of over 3,000 mortalities was not included in the state’s official death records.
"An important measure of disease severity is the number of reported deaths associated with the disease. Accurate reporting of COVID-19 associated deaths is vital to assessing the severity and impact of COVID-19 and determining the efficacy of infectious disease control measures,” the report emphasized.
"Absent complete and accurate information related to the extent and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, government officials and the general public may not have had all the information necessary to assess the efficacy of COVID-19 control measures and take appropriate actions," the report mentioned.
All three government bodies responded to the report.
While a spokesperson of the Department of Health told the Miami Herald that the report was flawed due to the auditors’ “misunderstanding”, the secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration stated that the agency assembled data through existing resources such as “licensed health care providers”.
Meanwhile, Kevin Guthrie, the director of the Division of Emergency Management, said that his agency relied on the Florida Department of Health for all the records.