FOX 35 INVESTIGATES: Questions raised after fatal motorcycle crash listed as COVID-19 death
ORLANDO, Fla. - (UPDATE) On Saturday, Kent Donahue, from Dr. Pino's office, said the motorcyclist's death "was reviewed and he was taken off the list for COVID fatalities."
Two days after a FOX 35 investigation, health officials confirm that a motorcycle death that was initially counted among COVID-19 fatalities has been removed from the state's data.
A spokesman for the Florida Department of Health in Orange County said it was reviewed and removed, but he didn't know exactly when.
FOX 35 began investigating this on Thursday after Orange County Health Officer Dr. Raul Pino said that a man who had coronavirus but died in a motorcycle crash had been added to the COVID death data.
At the time, he said he had asked the state to remove it from its numbers, but he didn't know if it ever was.
After reporting on this Thursday and Friday, officials notified FOX 35 on Saturday that they verified the death is no longer being counted.
(OLDER STORY VERSION) A person who died in a motorcycle accident was added to Florida’s COVID-19 death count, according to a state health official.
FOX 35 News found this out after asking Orange County Health Officer Dr. Raul Pino whether two coronavirus victims who were in their 20s had any underlying conditions. One of his answers surprised us.
“The first one didn’t have any. He died in a motorcycle accident,” Pino said.
Dr. Pino was asked if the man’s data was removed.
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“I don’t think so. I have to double-check,” Pino said. “We were arguing, discussing, or trying to argue with the state. Not because of the numbers -- it’s 100…it doesn’t make any difference if it's 99 -- but the fact that the individual didn’t die from COVID-19…died in the crash. But you could actually argue that it could have been the COVID-19 that caused him to crash. I don’t know the conclusion of that one.”
There are still two people in their 20s on Orange County’s data list for coronavirus deaths.
So is this a contradiction to how the state says it’s counting deaths?
To follow this investigation download the FOX 35 News App.
Earlier this week, the Florida Department of Health sent FOX 35 News a statement that attempted to clarify that a "COVID death" is determined if, "COVID19 is listed as the immediate or underlying cause of death, or listed as one of the significant conditions contributing to death. Or, if there is a confirmed COVID-19 infection from a lab test – and the cause of death doesn’t meet exclusion criteria – like trauma, suicide, homicide, overdose, motor-vehicle accident, etc."
“The only thing that I can say to people is the data I provide you with is the data we consume from the state. We offer you the best data that we have,” Dr. Pino said.
Dr. Pino tells us the medical examiner has to certify all COVID-19 deaths. We also reached out to that office and haven’t heard back.
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