'Fairly complicated’: City addresses delay in reporting of COVID-19 deaths

HOUSTON – At a time when the number of positive cases and deaths plays a significant role in how officials respond in the Houston area, Dr. David Persse, the city’s top doc, told KPRC 2 Investigates, “The reporting of a death is actually fairly complicated and it involves multiple steps.”

Dr. Persse spoke with Channel 2 Investigates after we detected several deaths from April not being announced by the city until nearly a month later.

On Monday, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the city’s 115 death, revealing the death was from 26 days ago, “A white male in his 80s, with underlying health conditions, who passed away on April 22,” Turner said.

Persse said the challenge of quickly tracking down people who died from the coronavirus involves multiple parts.

“Sometimes it’s the hospital not reporting very promptly. Sometimes it’s the funeral home and the family not reporting very promptly," he said.

The bottom line for city? There is a delay.

Gov. Greg Abbott says his office is getting results rapidly, but admits “Sometimes it takes a day or before it is added to the system.”

The city of Houston says they are seeing a longer delay, “We’re looking at about on average an 11 day delay in death report and so when we report the deaths, you’re right, that does not mean that these are not the deaths that occurred yesterday, these are the deaths that occurred over a several week period at the very least.”

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