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State Medical Examiner's Office Confirms an Increase of 20-40 Year Old Deaths Amid Pandemic

Posted at 8:29 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 21:29:26-04

The Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office has confirmed that they have seen an increase of deaths caused by pneumonia and coronavirus-like symptoms in individuals ages 20-40 in the past few months, who were not tested for COVID-19 before their passing.

Medical doctors can request that an individual who has passed with COVID-19 symptoms, but had not been diagnosed, be tested.

“The physician will decide if a swab sample needs to be taken depending on the signs and symptoms of the cases with antemortem symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, but we are unable to obtain specimens in all cases,“ said Amy Elliot, chief administrative officer with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

The state’s medical examiners do not perform the tests themselves. They collect swab samples and send them to the Oklahoma State Department of Health to be tested, according to the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office.

“We have obtained specimens from some of our cases and there have been positive results for COVID-19,” Elliot said.

Collecting COVID-19 data on deaths is something that the Medical Examiner’s Office would like to be able to do in the future.

“We need about 8,000 [test] kits or more per year and one or two to 80 freezers for storage and other consumable supplies," Elliot said. "Until such time we have these resources, we will swab cases with antemortem history or symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, but are unable to obtain specimens in all cases.”

As the State Medical Examiner’s Office begins to collect more COVID-19 swab samples in the next few weeks, the number of deaths in the State of Oklahoma caused by COVID-19 could rise.

2 Works for You has reached out several times to the Oklahoma State Department of Health to request the numbers on individuals ages 20-40 who reportedly exhibited COVID-19 symptoms prior to their passing. The OSDH stated that they do not have the specific data at this time.

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