coronavirus

Local Medical Examiner Breaks Down Florida's COVID Death Toll Reporting

Governor Ron Desantis continues to cast doubt on the death count being reported by his own state Health Department

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Alyssa Hyman examined how the state reports its numbers each day and why some are saying the formula is not correct.

On a day when Florida broke yet another record for deaths reported in a single day, Governor Ron Desantis continued to cast doubt on the death count being reported by his own state Health Department. 

On 'Fox and Friends' Thursday morning, the Governor once again brought up an example out of Orlando about someone who died in a motorcycle crash. 

“That was categorized as a COVID death just because the person had previously tested positive,” said Desantis. “We’ve had other incidents in which there’s no real relationship and it’s been counted. So, we want to look at that and see how pervasive that issue is as well.”

We reached out to the Florida Department of Health, both in Tallahassee and the division in Miami-Dade, to find out exactly what cases get counted into the state’s dashboard, but they have yet to provide an answer. 

However, we did get some insight into the process from Darren Caprara, who is the Director of Operations at the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office. 

“In this case, COVID deaths, because the governor has decreed that it is a public threat, fall under our responsibility to certify,” said Caprara. 

He explained that when his office gets notified about a potential case, they begin investigating it thoroughly, gathering all sorts of medical records, medical history and even test results. 

He says a medical examiner will then certify a death as either having a “COVID nexus” or not - in other words, “that the illness itself and the effects of the illness contributed to the person’s demise,” explained Caprara. 

He says only the deaths certified with a COIVD nexus are reported to the Florida Department of Health, the county and the Medical Examiner’s Commission. 

“Bottom line, we’re going to look at all the cases, but in a case that you mentioned, motorcycle or car accident, where it really is no connection at all we’re not going to report that out as COVID," Caprara siad. "We’re going to report that out as the cause of death is an accident.”