Two Minnesota state lawmakers are the latest to call for an audit of death certificates citing coronavirus, saying COVID-19 deaths could have been inflated by as much as 40%.
State Rep. Mary Franson and state Sen. Scott Jensen, a physician, have released a video on their findings:
“I have … examples where COVID isn’t the underlying cause of death, where we have a fall,” she said in the video. “Another example is we have a freshwater drowning. We have dementia. We have a stroke and multi-organ failure.”
In one case, she added, a person who was ejected from a car was “counted as a COVID death” because the virus was in his system.
Franson said at least 800 of the “death certificate data points” inspected by them indicated the virus was not the underlying cause of death.
Jensen pointed out that he gained attention back in April when he criticized the Minnesota Department of Health for following federal guides on recording coronavirus deaths.
“I sort of got myself in hot water way back in April when I made the comment that I was, as a physician, being encouraged to do death certificates differently with COVID-19 than with other disease entities,” Jensen said. “For 17 years, the CDC document that guides us as physicians to do death certificates has stood, but this year, we were told, through the Department of Health and the CDC, that the rules were changing if COVID-19 was involved. If it’s COVID-19, we’re told now it doesn’t matter if it was actually the diagnosis that caused death. If someone had it, they died of it.”
Jensen said the average payout to the hospital for a COVID death is $77,000.
In a report on “Fox & Friends” Tuesday, Franson made a direct plea to President Trump for national attention.
In other locations, similar questions are being raised – especially as high death counts continue to lead to state shutdowns.
In Tennessee, for example, a hospital retracted a death certificate for a man who had tested negative for the virus three times, yet was listed as a victim of the pandemic. In Colorado, a county coroner’s office pushed back against the state’s claim that another victim, who had tested positive for the virus, died of COVID in Montezuma County when the actual cause of death was alcohol poisoning.
However, Franson and Jensen noted in their video that while the deaths attributed to the virus appear inflated, this does not mean the virus should be treated without caution.
“The COVID-19 disease is real,” said Dr. Jensen. “There is no question.”
Questions continue to be raised by legislators in other states. A Southern Arizona lawmaker is claiming a new study he commissioned shows there is no correlation between the rising number of people being infected with COVID-19 and the number who wind up in the hospital. Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, is accusing the state health department of withholding the raw numbers that would allow him and other lawmakers to decide whether the trends being cited by Gov. Doug Ducey to justify his actions are merited.
On Tuesday, Finchem said it is wrong to focus on the rising number of positive test results as a reason to impose restrictions on individual and business activity, since fewer than 10 percent of those people who test positive wind up in the hospital.
The study done for Finchem by the Tennessee firm Anchor-Helm also claims “daily hospitalizations peaked June 16 and [have] fallen dramatically since.” What that means, the report says, is there is “no reason to expect a dramatic increase in cases will be associated with a dramatic increase in hospitalizations.”
Finchem has accused Ducey, the governor, of continuing to overreact to the virus even after the main danger had passed.
“The original premise of ‘flatten the curve’ was to smooth out the usage of critical care hospital beds by slowing the transmission of the virus,” Finchem said. “The effort was never about preventing the transmission of it.”
President Trump and Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force, as early as April said the federal government was classifying the deaths of patients infected with the coronavirus as COVID-19 deaths, regardless of any underlying health issues that could have contributed to the loss of the patient’s life.
“There are other countries that if you had a pre-existing condition, and let’s say the virus caused you to go to the ICU [intensive care unit] and then have a heart or kidney problem,” she said during a news briefing at the White House. “Some countries are recording that as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death.”
Birx said the federal government is continuing to count suspected COVID-19 deaths, despite other nations doing the opposite. “The intent is … if someone dies with COVID-19, we are counting that,” she said.
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