Are many virus deaths in Virginia unreported?

Once again, the reports of deaths from the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic show differences in what the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is reporting and what medical experts in our area are seeing.

The daily VDH report Tuesday overlooked at last 15 deaths in the Roanoke Valley and Alleghany Highlands, says Dr. Molly O’Dell, who is heading up the pandemic response in our areas.

O’Dell told a press conference Tuesday afternoon that while VDH reports four deaths in the two districts she deals with — three in Botetourt County and one in Roanoke — but see knows of 11 deaths in Roanoke, two in Salem, one in Roanoke County and two in Alleghany County not listed.

Ten residents at South Roanoke Nursing Home, she said, have died and were tested positively for the COVID-19 virus. O’Dell says the virus had killed 552 people at long-term health care facilities in the Commonwealth.

She says she keeps asking VDH why their numbers are lower than what she knows they should be for this area but is still waiting for an answer or an explanation.

“Every one of us has to be on guard and make conscious decisions,” she said at the press conference. “Are we going to be part of the containment of this virus, or are we going to be part of more widespread shedding of this disease.”

“What we don’t want to happen is for people to think Phase 1 means that, oh, everything is fine,” she adds. “Because, as you can see, we are still having a number of cases, new cases,” she said. “This virus is alive and well in our community.”

VDH Tuesday reported 927 deaths as of 5 p.m. Tuesday but still lists only 1 death in Roanoke. If similar differences exist in other health districts in Virginia may well be over a thousand and suggest the problem is far worse than reported with Gov. Ralph Northam’s plan to ease restrictions and allow some businesses and restaurants to reopen, with restrictions, on Friday.

 

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