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While a lot of controversy has come forth over how the deaths of those affected by COVID-19 are recorded, this in itself is something no one can seem to agree on. You see, according to Toronto Public Health, even those who die of other things while having COVID-19 are still marked on the COVID death toll. 

Back in late June (2020) Toronto Public Health tweeted that ‘Individuals who have died with COVID-19 but not as a result of COVID-19 are included in the case counts for COVID-19 deaths in Toronto.’ This which you can see below is a very real tweet and while some agree it should be this way others believe it is in a sense falsifying deaths overall and making the virus out to be more deadly than it perhaps actually is. Many are torn on the topic.

You see, it is very complicated to really track the death levels of something like this. For instance, we can’t count those who died before being tested unless somehow their positive or negative status is obtained, and we can’t really say that COVID-19 didn’t contribute to the deaths of those who passed that tested positive but died of ‘unrelated’ causes because we don’t fully understand the virus itself even now. 

Some countries are choosing to count these people passing who were testing positive as part of the COVID-19 deaths and others are not. It really just depends on where you are in the world whether or not this is happening, however that tweet is confirmation that Toronto at the very least is counting them. Really this in itself makes us question a lot of things. 

The Toronto Sun wrote as follows on this topic not too long ago:

So, do we have the right data?

The real answer is that we have the best data available to us, but it is far from complete and far from uniform.

Each province has determined its own way to count COVID-19 deaths and even within provinces –such as Ontario with 34 individual health units — what information is provided is not always complete.

My decision to look into this came after a revealing tweet from Toronto Public Health. From the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve heard claims that COVID death counts include people who died with the coronavirus in their system but not necessarily from COVID-19.

“Individuals who have died with COVID-19, but not as a result of COVID-19 are included in the case counts for COVID-19 deaths in Toronto,” TPH tweeted in reply to a question on the issue.

To me, that sounds like we may be inflating our COVID-19 death count. Was this the case across Ontario? Was this the case across Canada?

I reached out to local public health units across Ontario and found out that was the case; someone who was infected when they died was considered a COVID death even if they may have died of another cause.

“A death that occurs in an active case of COVID-19 is counted as a COVID-19 death. COVID-19 cases marked as fatal are included in the public health reporting databases whether or not COVID-19 was determined to be a contributing or underlying cause of death,” said Public Health Ontario.

This basically meaning someone could already have an existing heart condition, be diagnosed with the virus, and die of a heart attack but still be counted as having died from COVID-19. Now, this some argue is important because the virus can put stress on a person’s system big time and while they did have a condition, they would have otherwise perhaps not had a full-on heart attack. Basically, it’s being noted that the virus could contribute to the heart attack or even cause it depending on how you look at it. 

What do you think about all of this? I for one am on the fence about whether or not these deaths should be counted. While I understand the point behind it, I am still not sure if they should be counted or not.