Ohio to begin reporting deaths in nursing homes - but by county, not facility

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COLUMBUS (WBNS) — In trying to strike a balance between privacy rights and the right for the public to know, Governor Mike DeWine announced Monday that the state would begin reporting the number of deaths inside nursing homes - with a catch.

The Ohio Department of Health will report the aggregated number of deaths in long-term care facilities by county - not by the specific facility. That decision, DeWine said, was meant to prevent someone from being identified.

Reporters have been pressing the DeWine administration for weeks to provide more data on nursing homes - including the names of facilities where the outbreaks have occurred and the number of deaths.

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Last week, the Ohio Department of Health published - and then took down - a website it created to track the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. Many viewers have written to 10 Investigates saying certain facilities are not on the list but should be.

The state took the list down over the weekend saying it found inconsistencies in the data and need to correct and verify the information - adding it would post the website again this week.

As of Monday, there were 1,204 COVID-19 cases in long-term care facilities.

10 Investigates combined its reporting with our sister stations WTOL in Toledo and WKYC in Cleveland. Together, the reporters found there have been at least 60 deaths in nursing homes - but we know that figure is likely much higher.

Pete Van Runkle with the Ohio Health Care Association, which represents more than 1,000 facilities across the state said more testing capability is needed along with more personal protective equipment.

When asked about why some facilities have been upfront with reporters and others have not, he said he would encourage all members to be transparent.

The ohio department of health said it will post updated figures including the aggregated number of deaths on Wednesday afternoons at 2 p.m.

Coronavirus: What you need to know

There are now 31,625 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio; 1,888 people have died from the virus and 5,773 were hospitalized, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Breakdown of Ohio cases by county >>

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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