Change in State COVID-19 Death Reporting

The Iowa Department of Public Health announces a change in the way they report deaths attributed to COVID-19 to better align with national and state reporting. As we learn more about the virus and testing expands significantly, Iowa like many states has changed its methodology.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response states have adapted as we’ve learned new information and gained new tools. It was immediately apparent this pandemic required public reporting on a variety of critical information in near real time. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) created a process to meet this emerging need. They will continue to evaluate the information we share and will continue to solicit feedback from stakeholders to inform any changes.
Death Reporting Background
 For other diseases, IDPH relies on ICD-10 national coding on the death record.
 When the pandemic began there was not an ICD-10 code for COVID-19 as a cause of death.
 To address this, IDPH relied on a combination of a confirmed positive test result in IDPH’s information system, along with case information that indicates the individual is deceased.
There are challenges with this approach, though it was the best available solution when the pandemic began.
Changing Dynamics:
New types of testing has become available.
Iowa was one of the first states to include antigen test results in our public reporting.
 With the large increase in antigen testing, specifically in long-term care, and through conversations with counties and local public health, we’ve recognized a need to adjust our approach on death reporting.
 Other states continue to shift the way they report this information.
It’s anticipate more states shifting to similar reporting now that there are ICD-10 codes.
This will be useful for national comparison purposes.
This will also be useful for comparing different causes of death within the State of Iowa.
Effective December 7, 2020
IDPH will modify the methodology for counting and reporting deaths due to COVID-19. This will adjust the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19.