The WAAY 31 I-Team learned a team of three people is responsible for reviewing almost all deaths related to coronavirus cases in Alabama.
At Tut Fann in Huntsville, WAAY 31 wanted to know if coronavirus is connected to why 10 patients here died in the past three weeks. Thursday, the Alabama Department of Public health said it could take several more weeks.
Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health said the agency is working past capacity right now. Workers are already doing multiple jobs. She said there is a priority to add staff and make it clear on the state dashboard what day a death occurred. Landers explained, right now, it could take weeks to show up because if multiple records come in at once it could create a backlog.
"This one physician has to review every one of these records. There actually is the for the most part one nurse and maybe one epidemiologist to assist, so it's a relatively small team and those people are also working other multiple duties. In other words the death review team has other duties they have to carry out as well," she said.
The Department of Public Health said it waits until it receives all the records and information related to a possible coronavirus death before ruling it COVID related. Landers explained the health department doesn't pressure hospitals or long term care facilities because they're working with other patients and might have to prioritize treatment over sending records.
At Tut Fann, of the 10 patients who died in the past three weeks, the state confirms 7 tested positive for coronavirus at some point before they died. As of now, there's no timeline on knowing how many of them are COVID related.