Medical professionals say Arkansas COVID-19 deaths are higher than reported

KNWA

"The ADH reported like 12 deaths in one day, but some of them were back in June," Dr. Marti Sharkey said. "There's a lot of delay."

ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Arkansas Department of Health announced Saturday (August 15) it had removed a group of reported cases found to be out-of-state residents or duplicates, causing the totals to appear skewed in the daily update, but now there is other data being called into question.

They are looking at the death numbers and they are like oh it’s not as high… when they are higher.

DR. MARTI SHARKEY, CITY HEALTH DIRECTOR, FAYETTEVILLE

Recently the question has been asked: Is the COVID-19 death toll higher than reported for the state? Medical professionals in our area say the answer is yes.

I do think we have our COVID deaths underrepresented to the state.

DR. MARTI SHARKEY, CITY HEALTH DIRECTOR, FAYETTEVILLE

Fayetteville City Health Director, Dr. Marti Sharkey, said when the Arkansas Department of Health reports our state’s COVID-19 deaths late, it puts the total number into question.

“The Arkansas Department of Health is slammed,” she said. “They are having to report the test results, the antigen results, try to get it out to the counties, and try to process all the death certificates.”

It’s just a lot of data being processed and our systems are being overwhelmed.

DR. MARTI SHARKEY, CITY HEALTH DIRECTOR, FAYETTEVILLE

Dr. Sharkey fears this could make Arkansans undermine this deadly virus.

“We as physicians and the medical community know for sure it was COVID-related, but because of the delay the data is being questioned,” she said. “The data is not as clean as it needs to be.”

We’re working seven days a week and we are doing our very best to make sure our data is as accurate as possible.

DR. AUSTIN PORTER, DEPUTY CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER, ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

Arkansas Department of Health Deputy Chief Science Officer, Dr. Austin Porter, said when dealing with an infectious disease of this nature, there’s always the possibility of underrepresenting the numbers.

“We do work with our coroners to make sure we try and get as many cases as possible and that they are accurately counted,” he said.

Those numbers might not be reflected in our numbers because we don’t have a positive test for them yet.

DR. AUSTIN PORTER, DEPUTY CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER, ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

While there are a lot of different factors that play into why the numbers would be wrong, Dr. Porter said the ADH is taking initiatives to ensure clean and correct data is given to the public.

“I think Arkansas can rest well knowing we have a team of 20 epidemiologists who are working specifically on COVID-19,” he said.

Dr. Porter said it’s important this data is accurate, so Arkansans can make choices regarding the coronavirus that are safest for their families — especially as we head into a school year of uncertainty.

Decisions are being made based on this data and we want to make sure that we are giving them the most accurate information that they can have.

DR. AUSTIN PORTER, DEPUTY CHIEF SCIENCE OFFICER, ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

I think it’s concerning in that it causes people not to take COVID as seriously as they need to.

DR. MARTI SHARKEY, CITY HEALTH DIRECTOR, FAYETTEVILLE

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