DHEC conducts cross analysis of death certificates and confirmed COVID-19 cases 

As part of public health officials’ ongoing efforts to confirm COVID-19 deaths are accurately reported, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) provided the results of a cross analysis of the deaths reported directly to the agency by medical professionals and the deaths reported to the agency on death certificates.

“As our state continues to respond to this unprecedented event, DHEC remains committed to ensuring that every South Carolinian who has died from COVID-19 is counted,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Physician. “This action aligns with efforts currently underway by other states and will assist us in more fully understanding the burden of this disease across the state and those populations who are most severely affected.”

Through this data comparison, DHEC has identified 29 additional deaths associated with COVID-19 that had not been previously reported. This brings the statewide total, today, to 232.

The deaths of these individuals occurred over the timespan of March 25 through April 21. As such, this does not significantly affect the state’s public health actions, projections or the recommendations of DHEC.

“It’s important to note that we are still discovering more about COVID-19,” Dr. Traxler said. “We will continue to release new information as it becomes available.”

Prior to the first case of COVID-19 in South Carolina, DHEC proactively provided federal and state guidance to death certifiers across the state on the appropriate way to complete a death certificate in an instance when COVID-19 is the cause or contributed to an individual’s death. In addition, DHEC continues to take steps to improve data quality and the reporting of COVID-19 confirmed cases and deaths, including:

  • sending Health Alerts to facilities and providers,
  • contacting private labs to remind them of their legal reporting requirements to DHEC’s disease control staff,
  • updating the list of reportable conditions to specifically include COVID-19 cases and COVID-19-related deaths, and

As of April 22, per the updated List of Reportable Conditions, physicians and other healthcare providers must now report all COVID-19-related deaths to DHEC within 24 hours. All deaths reported to DHEC for death certificate registration by funeral directors must be done by law within five days of the date of death.  The report of an individual’s cause of death may be delayed if they had numerous medical issues or it takes longer to collect the personal demographic information from the family.

DHEC continues to update our website with the most up-to-date demographic and other relevant public health data. For the latest information about COVID-19, visit scdhec.gov/COVID19.