KDHE Secretary explains possible reasons for differences in state numbers, other sources

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Federal, state and local health agencies all are tracking the impacts of COVID-19 on various populations.

It offers various ways to find and view data. But in some cases, the numbers don't add up.

One example is the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Kansas. Johns Hopkins University data shows 205 deaths attributed to the virus as of 10 p.m. May 22. The Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment put the number at 185 in an update it posted earlier in the day.

13 NEWS checked information that individual county health departments posted regarding cases in their counties. Those numbers reflected what Johns Hopkins showed as the number of novel coronavirus-related deaths in Kansas.

KDHE Secretary Dr. Lee Norman said he is comfortable with the state's numbers. He said there could be several reasons for the differences.

"There is a question that comes up every now and again- 'Is it the cause of death that was COVID-19, or was it the underlying conditions that were contributing factors?' and usually - and I've unfortunately filled out a lot of death certificates, and it's sometimes it does require a certain judicious, 'Was it the cause of death or was it a contributing factor?' but I'm pretty comfortable," Dr. Norman said. "We review every one of the death certificates so that we can authenticate it."

Dr. Norman also recalled how, early in the pandemic, a death from a cruise ship was attributed to Kansas simply because it was in the middle of the country, since officials did not yet know the person's state of residence.

He said he will look into any further reasons to explain the differing reports.

As for total case numbers, Johns Hopkins reports the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases for each state and county. Since May 7, KDHE's number has reflected confirmed and probable cases.