Lehigh, Northampton County coronavirus death tolls change overnight under new statewide counting system

Written by on May 19, 2020

 Lehigh, Northampton County coronavirus death tolls change overnight under new statewide counting system

By Jen Rehill

May 19, 2020

Pennsylvania has changed how it is reporting deaths from COVID-19. And that’s meant a change to the numbers for the Lehigh Valley. 

As WLVR’s Jen Rehill reports, Lehigh and Northampton counties have some of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the commonwealth — nearly 10% of 63,000 total cases. 

Under the state’s new reporting system, the case counts for the Lehigh Valley haven’t changed — but the number of deaths has shifted. 

Reported deaths went up nearly 25% overnight in Lehigh County — to 173. In Northampton County deaths fell by 28 to 171. 

State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine says that’s a direct result of changes to how nursing home deaths are counted under the electronic death reporting system.

“If a person who resided in a nursing home died from COVID-19, but actually maintained a residence in another county, their death will be reported in the county of residence listed on their death record.” 

Levine says that brings Pennsylvania into compliance with CDC guidelines, but also means people may see different figures from county coroners.

Nearly 70% of the Valley’s total deaths are among nursing home residents.


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