Washington removes homicides, suicides from COVID-19 deaths

Washington health officials on Wednesday removed seven deaths from the state’s official COVID-19 mortality count, including three homicides.

The Department of Health said it had been counting as coronavirus deaths all people who died and tested positive for the disease. Authorities say they have now removed deaths from the count that weren’t caused specifically by COVID-19.

Those deaths included three homicides, two suicides and two overdoses. The department osaid four of the deaths were in King County and three were in Yakima County.

Moving forward, authorities say they will attempt to be more specific about whether a death was caused by the coronavirus or whether a person died of other causes.

With the revisions, the state now reports that at least 1,226 people have died from COVID-19. Nearly 26,800 have tested positive.

Also Wednesday the department said since April 21st it had been including negative antibody test results along with negative molecular test results in the total negative tests, which officials say has incorrectly inflated the reporting of individuals who have tested negative for COVID-19.

Molecular tests gauge whether a person has an active infection, while antibody tests help determine whether someone was exposed to the coronavirus in the past.

After correcting for the error, health officials say the actual cumulative positive percentage for people tested in Washington state increased to 6.2% from 5.5%. (AP)