Metro Health now tracks deaths ‘under investigation’ for COVID-19 in addition to confirmed deaths

Stat intended to clear up discrepancy between local, state numbers

FILE - In this July 6, 2020, file photo, a ventilator helps a COVID-19 patient breath inside the Coronavirus Unit in a Texas hospital. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File) (David J. Phillip, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

SAN ANTONIO – After discrepancies appeared between state and local numbers on COVID-19 deaths, Metro Health is now releasing the number of deaths under investigation along with the number of COVID-19 deaths confirmed by the local health agency.

The disparity popped up in late July when the Texas Department of Health Services changed its reporting method on counting COVID-19 deaths, much to the frustration of San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

Before, the state agency relied on local health departments to verify COVID-19 death reports. Now, all deaths marked with COVID-19 as a cause of death on the death certificate are automatically added, leading to a sudden jump in the state’s numbers.

“I will say that what has complicated this entire process is that the state of Texas has changed the methodology by which they report data more than twice,” Nirenberg told KSAT in a Q and A segment. “With regard to deaths, with regard to how we count positive cases, and some of that is in conflict with not only the CDC and cities around the country but also with our own standards of accuracy.”

Assistant City Manager and Interim Metro Health Director Dr. Colleen Bridger said the deaths-under-investigation statistic will be released going forward to clear up the difference in numbers.

As of Monday, Metro Health confirmed 455 COVID-19 deaths in Bexar County, while 327 deaths are under investigation.