Health officials say dozens more people died of complications from COVID-19 during the pandemic in Vermont than were initially reported.
The Department of Health said Friday an analysis of data on the virus identified 86 additional deaths, bringing the total for the state since the pandemic began in March 2020 to 877. Most of those deaths were in 2022, the department said.
““I regret that these data were not reported in a more timely manner,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine. “But it is important to understand that because these deaths occurred over time – and spread across many months from across the state – we are confident this would not have had an impact on the trajectory of the data or on our approach to the pandemic.”
The additional fatalities were discovered shortly before the holidays by a data analyst who identified several death reports from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner that had not been entered into the state’s epidemiology surveillance system. The department said the reduction in staff capacity after Vermont’s State of Emergency ended resulted in reports that “were not processed correctly, resulting in the reporting discrepancy.”
The new data raises Vermont’s COVID-19 death rate from 126 per 100,000 to 140 per 100,000, still among the lowest rates in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Our data team are among the heroes of Vermont’s pandemic response. Working long days with few days off from the moment we learned of the first case,” Levine said. “Nonetheless, we are reviewing our systems to ensure data oversights like this one can be avoided, while supporting these dedicated public health workers.”