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State admits being slow to report additional 2,500 COVID-19 deaths…

6:11 AM EST on March 8, 2021

Now that we've made it through the fall-winter surge, and Oklahomans are receiving vaccinations at a decent clip, there appears to be an end in sight – albeit a blurry one – to the pandemic-as-we-know-it.

As a result, the Kevin Stitt administration has figured this would probably be a good time to admit the state's reporting for COVID-19 deaths was off by about 2,500 people or so. No big deal, right?

Here are some details via a Forman / Branham report in The Oklahoman_:

The Oklahoma State Department of Health for months presented the public with a COVID-19 death toll that had fallen far out of date.

Noting that its count was no longer timely, the agency announced last week that it would begin to present the death toll that is used by the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics, which shows roughly 2,500 more Oklahomans have died from COVID-19 than the state had reported.

Until then, the state reported a death toll that lagged far behind the CDC’s provisional death count.

While that count is based on death certificates — and is considered the “most complete and accurate picture of lives lost to COVID-19,” according to the CDC — Oklahoma’s health department was only adding a death to its toll after a detailed investigation.

Yep, the state had to do a "detailed investigation" as to why someone who died from COVID-19 died from COVID-19. Why do I have the feeling the "investigation" involved a phone call like this...

"Hey Mr. Stitt! I regret to inform you we have yet another death caused by the Coronavirus. Should we report it?"

"Ehhh. Coronavirus deaths are already at a record high, so let's put it in the 'needs detailed investigation' pile. It's located next to the stack of White House Coronavirus Task Force reports we're not issuing to the public."

"But, sir, the deceased individual was aged 85, tested positive for COVID-19 multiple times, and was on a ventilator for three weeks in the hospital's COVID ward! This is obviously a–"

"I'm sorry, I didn't catch all that. Can you talk to Commander Fry about it? I'm here at a ski lodged in Santa Fe and the reception is a bit spotty. Let me call you back when I get back in town next week."

In all seriousness, the obvious question here is why was the state taking so long to report the deaths? We'll probably never know the real truth because it looks like the state has a good fall guy already in place – State Epidemiologist Dr. Jared Taylor.

Here's what the former Lost Ogle Show guest told The Oklahoman:

State epidemiologist Dr. Jared Taylor said the health department had been aware of discrepancies in the death tolls since November.

“I think the next obvious question is, well, why now?” Taylor said. “Arguably, we were a little late in getting that done. I’ll own that.”...

“We certainly had not been waiting to do it,” he said. “There wasn’t anything that was a reason for delay. We just had not made that call until just recently.”

Yep, who cares that the death rate was already soaring during this period, and that we have a governor who's more focused on distorting and ignoring information as opposed to being honest with his constituents. They were just a little bit late getting it done.

In all fairness to Dr. Taylor, the state's decision to "investigate" Coronavirus deaths was made before he came on board as interim State Epidemiologist last summer, and – who knows – may explain why our other epidemiologists lasted about as long as a Spinal Tap drummer.

Asked if he believed the state had been providing an accurate depiction of COVID-19’s impact on Oklahoma before the change in death reporting, Taylor said he did, though he acknowledged the change could’ve come sooner.

“I would like to say and believe that, yes, we were representing it correctly, although again, I will own, myself, the responsibility of saying I think I could have been more quick in noting the significance of that difference.”

When health officials announced the change, Taylor had said it was an appropriate time to present the CDC’s provisional death toll “so that there's no perception that we're minimizing these deaths.”

From my hour-long conversation with Dr. Taylor – an OSU professor – back in August, he came across as smart, pleasant and professional dude, so I'm not surprised he's taking the fall here. Someone has to, and it's not going to be the Governor.

I also don't think he'd blame me, and lots and lots and lots of other people who have a good reason to be skeptical here, for thinking there's something political at work in this situation. If I ever make it to the fancy new Oklahoma Center for Pandemic Innovation and Excellence that's conveniently located in Stillwater, I'll be sure to ask him about it.

Anyway, you can read more about this at The Oklahoman_. Stay with The Lost Ogle. We'll keep you advised.

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