As of Friday, the Alameda County Health department had reported 1,634 COVID-19 deaths, but later that day it was revised down to 1,223.
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According to the Health Department, the 25% decrease was made to comply with the state's definition of a COVID-19 death, which requires COVID-19 to be a direct or contributing factor or a situation in which it can't be ruled out.
In a press release, Neetu Balram with the Alameda County Health Department wrote, "Alameda County previously included any person who died while infected with the virus in the total COVID-19 deaths for the county."
As an example, Balram explained "a resident who had COVID-19 but died due to another cause, like a car accident, this person would be included in the total number of reported COVID-19 deaths for Alameda County."
UCSF Epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford has been closely studying data from around the country. He said he's unsure why Alameda counted so many incidents in that way for so long, but points out the county was forced to design their own reporting criteria before the state created a unified system.
"I'm betting it's very specific to Alameda County, which had a lot of cases early on and had to do a lot of on-the-fly definitions and systems and now they are being brought into alignment," said Rutherford.
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