In Charlotte County, the Department of Health is reporting 25 COVID-19 deaths, while the Medical Examiner has reported 29 deaths caused by the virus, and one death of a patient positive for COVID-19 but asymptomatic.
Last week, the Tampa Bay Times reported state officials stopped releasing a list of coronavirus deaths compiled by Florida medical examiners, stating it needed to be reviewed and possibly redacted.
The decision came sometime after the newspaper reported the Medical Examiners’ death count, released in real time, was 10% higher than the figure released by the Department of Health, according to the Times.
The discrepancy for Charlotte County of 25 to 29 makes the Medical Examiners’ count approximately 16% higher than the state.
The District Twelve Medical Examiner, which includes Sarasota, DeSoto and Manatee counties, stated there were 48 deaths caused by COVID-19 in Sarasota County, and three additional COVID-19 positive deaths in which the infection appears to have been asymptomatic, according to Chief Medical Examiner Russell Vega.
That number is only one more than the 47 Sarasota County deaths reported by the Department of Health.
“(Medical Examiner) offices may have slightly higher numbers because we track ANY death that occurs in the counties we cover, whereas county health departments track deaths of residents,” Vega said in an email. “Also, our numbers are probably a little more current since we are logging the deaths as they occur. We submit our data to the state which then tabulates it at the state level.”
In DeSoto County, the Department of Health actually lists more deaths than the Medical Examiner — four, compared to just one recorded by Vega’s office.
“Most of those deaths are of DeSoto County residents who died in Charlotte County,” he said.
The list provided by the Charlotte County Medical Examiner provides additional information which state officials have not released, including the place of death.
For hospitals, 11 patients have died at Fawcett Memorial Hospital, eight at Bayfront Health Port Charlotte and four at Bayfront Health Punta Gorda. For nursing homes, five people died at South Port Square and two at Port Charlotte Rehabilitation Center.
The patients, between the ages of 60 and 99, all have contributing factors listed, with some of the most common being hypertension, arteriosclertotic cardiovascular disease, advanced age, and dementia.
The Florida Department of Health did not immediately respond to an inquiry regarding the discrepancy in numbers.