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State employee resigns, another reassigned after underreported COVID-19 deaths in Ohio

State health officials said human error is to blame for roughly 4,100 underreported COVID-19 deaths in Ohio.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A state employee has resigned after state health officials said human error is to blame for roughly 4,100 underreported COVID-19 deaths in Ohio. 

Karthik Kondapally, an epidemiology investigator in the Bureau of Infectious Diseases, was initially placed on administrative leave on Thursday but sent in her resignation letter on Friday.

Another employee, Sietske de Fijter, was the chief of the Bureau of Infectious Diseases but has now been reassigned to a different job in the Bureau of Health Improvement and Wellness.

An Ohio Department of Health spokesperson said the Bureau of Infectious Diseases is involved with reconciling death data in the state. 

The ODH spokesperson said Kristen Dickerson has been appointed to take over as Chief of the Bureau of Infectious Diseases.

Ohio Dept. of Health Director Stephanie McCloud said she was notified this week of the underreported deaths but it was discovered the miscounting dated back to October during a surge in cases.

McCloud said the system is a manual one, and she pointed to the need for ODH to be able to upgrade its technology.  

To address the issue, McCloud says the department is being restructured, and additional resources are being brought in to help. And, in the meantime, there are more hands-on-deck to sort through the backlog.

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