DSHS to identify COVID-19 deaths through death certificates

Death certificate backlog
Posted at 4:47 PM, Jul 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-27 17:47:18-04

The Texas Department of State Health Services will now use death certificates to identify fatalities from COVID-19.

A death is attributed to COVID-19 when the medical certifier, usually a doctor with direct knowledge of the patient, determines COVID-19 directly caused the death. DSHS says people who had COVID-19 but died of an unrelated cause will not be included in the count.

According to DSHS, using death certificates will allow fatalities to be counted faster with more comprehensive demographic data. It also ensures consistent reporting statewide and enables DSHS to display deaths by date.

Death certificates are required by law to be filed within 10 days. Fatalities are reported based on where the person lived.

Previously, COVID-19 fatalities were reported publicly by local and regional health departments after they received a notification and verified the death. The length of time that process takes varies by jurisdiction and does not provide timely demographic information on most deaths, DSHS says.