State leaders introduce bill that would improve reporting of COVID-19 deaths

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) – State leaders joined county coroners to introduce a bill that would improve transparency from the Department of Health in reporting COVID-19 deaths, and any other contagious disease deaths in the future.

This comes after the Department of Health has been terming COVID-19 deaths as “natural,” which don’t require coroners to be notified.

According to Senator Judy Ward, Senate Bill 327 would make it clear that all deaths in the county suspected of disease constituting health disaster or pandemic, shall be referred to the county coroner for investigation.

President of the Pennsylvania Coroners Association Charles Kiessling says the legislation would also provide more accurate recordings of deaths.

“We don’t walk into a death scene where there’s white powder all over and say well it’s a drug death. No we do testing for that. Same thing with covid. We’re going to do the covid test, we’re going to have a positive test and determine truly if that was a covid death or whether it was not,” said Kiessling.

He adds that it would also give coroners access to the Department of Health’s electronic death registry system.

“Which is so important…we can review death certificates, we can see what people die from,” said Kiessling.

Senator Judy Ward introduced the same bill last year, which was passed in both the House and in the Senate, but it was vetoed by Governor Wolf.

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