Actual Long-Term Care COVID-19 Death Totals Unclear

NEW JERSEY - "What are the numbers?" That's a common question. A better question may be, "What are the real numbers?"

A growing issue in national news and now local is the challenge of obtaining accurate data. At the detailed COVID-19 Long Term Care Facilities Dashboard on the state website, the number of Long Term Care facilities with outbreaks is listed as 413, the total case count is listed as 10,163 and the total number of deaths at Long Term Facilities at 1,655.

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So, a reader would assume that 1,655 residents died of COVID-19, right? Wrong.

During questioning from the press pool in Saturdays news conference, the Health Commissioner provided important insight into how LTC death is calculated during the pandemic. The death total that was listed as 1,655 was assumed to be COVID-19 related. It is blended with untested deaths.

According to Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli at the Saturday press conference, the total is 1,655

"But it includes COVID positive deaths, deaths with pending (no result) test results and respiratory illness deaths for which COVID testing was not performed. So, the assumption is that there was a possibility that they were COVID so they're in that number as well." 

It isn't clear if the other data is impacted as well. Across the country, obtaining an accurate COVID-19 specific count is directly related to opening up the country again to resume normal activities.