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Smart Talk: Counting the number of lives lost to COVID

Gabriella Angotti-Jones for NPR

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Airdate: Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The first COVID death in Pennsylvania was recorded on March 18, 2020 — a Northampton County man whose family was already grieving the loss of his sister from the disease in New Jersey. Since that time, more than twenty thousand Pennsylvanians have lost their lives to the virus.

In the first few months of the pandemic a narrative began to develop on social media that hospitals and care centers were paid more money by the government if a patient died of COVID, rather than another cause. This narrative has been fact-checked as misleading, but it continues to sew doubt over COVID data reporting.

An article published in Kaiser Health News demonstrates the alternative impact on families when deaths aren’t counted as COVID, especially when it is a significant contributing cause. Freelance Reporter Melissa Bailey appears on Smart Talk Wednesday to discuss her report.

Also, Stephen Diamantoni, M.D., is the Lancaster County Coroner and he will join Smart Talk share their efforts to report accurate data.

Also on Wednesday’s program is Michelle Duster, author of the just published book Ida B. the Queen – The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells,  a biography of Ms. Duster’s great-grandmother – a late 19th and early 20th Century investigative journalist, civil and social rights activist and suffragette.

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