Ohio health officials have claimed to have no record of which nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have seen deaths caused by the coronavirus, an investigation from local media found.
A joint investigation by ABC News 5 Cleveland and Sripps station, WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, found that the state says it does not track which nursing homes have had coronavirus deaths, despite tracking deaths by county. The lack of records was revealed after a lawsuit was filed in the Ohio Court of Claims seeking “health department records identifying how many have died in the more than 900 individual nursing homes across the state,” News 5 Cleveland said.
In a court record seeking to dismiss the case, the Ohio Department of Health said that “the records do not exist,” the outlet said.
The Ohio Department of Health began tracking and reporting data related to the coronavirus from long-term care facilities, which includes nursing homes, on April 15. Although confirmed cases of COVID-19 are broken down by facility on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, deaths are only segregated by county.
As of Thursday, Franklin County, which is home to the state capital of Columbus, had the most coronavirus-related deaths at 424. It was followed by Cuyahoga County at 367 deaths.
News 5 Cleveland reported that Jack Greiner, a Scripps attorney who recently filed a motion opposing the health department’s motion to dismiss the case, said that a lack of records “suggests rank incompetence at ODH” and said the “statement does not appear to be true,” according to an affidavit obtained by Scripps.
Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Indiana all publish coronavirus fatalities by individual facilities.
Ohio currently has nearly 600,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the ODH. Data from the Covid Tracking Project indicates the state has been adding between 5,000 and 11,000 new cases every day since December 1.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Ohio Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair.