(Story by Jeff Ledington, Mountain Advocate)
Knox County has seen a spike in Covid-19 related deaths in the state’s daily report. The jump from 11 deaths to 30 surprised many who look at the Knox County Health Department’s daily update; no deaths had been reported there since October. The Mountain Advocate reached out to health department Director Rebecca Rains to address the apparent surge and the reporting of numbers.
The good news is that Knox County is not experiencing a rash of new Covid deaths. “These are deaths from a few months ago from congregate settings,” said Rains. Rains stated that the department stopped reporting deaths locally due to several factors.
One reason was that the state makes the final determination on whether a death is due to Covid. “Since we do not make that determination locally, it caused our numbers to be skewed from the state reports because we had reported deaths that the state later determined were not caused by Covid,” she stated.
Another factor is that the health department isn’t always notified of deaths of Knox Countians in other counties, such as at Baptist Health Corbin in Whitley County. “There are instances where deaths are not reported to us because someone may die in another county,” said Rains.
One point of confusion for many Knox Countians has been the health department’s daily update not listing new Covid deaths despite having a section dedicated to them. Although the department stopped reporting local deaths for the reasons stated, the new death’s section was never removed from the update chart. When this was brought to her attention, Rains said the oversight would be corrected and since then, the section has been removed.
“The state has the most accurate information on deaths, so what they have as the number of deaths is what should be utilized,” said Rains. The state’s daily report can be found online at https://chfs.ky.gov/Pages/cvdaily.aspx