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UPDATED 7:30 P.M. MONDAY, MAY 18:
YORKVILLE – The Kendall County Coroner's Office is reporting more COVID-19 deaths that occurred within the county's boundaries, whether COVID-19 was the cited cause of death or not.
The office said in a Monday, May 18 statement via social media there have been six COVID-19 related deaths that have reportedly occurred within Kendall County's borders so far. The recent in-county deaths include a 95 year old Yorkville man who died April 29, an 86 year old Oswego woman who died May 2, a 91 year old Yorkville woman who died May 6, and an 89 year old Oswego woman who died May 9.
All four died in nursing homes, according to the Monday statement. The deaths were determined to be natural and appropriately referred back to their primary physicians for proper completion of the death certificate.
Coroner officials also said there were two other deaths reported to the office where the subject's cause of death was not listed as COVID-19 but the person did test positive for COVID-19 at the time of death. The deceased includes an 84 year old Oswego woman who died May 5 and an 89 year old Oswego woman who died May 11, both at nursing homes.
Kendall County Coroner Jacquie Purcell said once the coroner determines the office doesn't need to be involved – if there's any unexplained broken hips associated with a dementia patient, for example – it's up to the patient's doctor to determine whether the deceased actually died from COVID-19. If the deceased tested positive for COVID-19 but didn't have a cough or fever, for example, the doctor may attribute the cause of death to whatever previous health conditions the patient had.
Purcell said that differs from how the state is counting COVID-19 related deaths – if someone tests positive for the illness and that person is declared dead, the fact the person contracted the illness and died ends up a little more blended together. She said the difference between the four who died of COVID-19 and the separate two who tested postive for the illness previously is the four will have COVID-19 listed on their death certificate, whereas the separate two would not.
"That's kind of the difference from dying from COVID-19 and dying with COVID-19," Purcell said.
Dr. Amaal Tokars, executive director for Kendall County Health Department, had said those who live in nursing homes and test positive for COVID-19 are classified as recovering "at home" as opposed to "in the hospital" within county health data.
Tokars said whether a death is classified as a COVID-19 death or not would determine how the patient's physician would declare the death on the patient's death certificate. She said 100% of what the county health department reports regarding COVID-19 related deaths is dependant on the information they receive from physicians.
“However we get that, that’s how we report it,” Tokars said.
Purcell said she can understand how hard it might be for the public to discern what's true, what's not true, what's happening and what's not happening in the county amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I can appreciate where it gives that appearance where they are fudging numbers – and they're really not," Purcell said, but it's just a matter of differences in who's counting what and how everything's being counted between county coroner's offices, local health departments and state health officials.
Purcell also said Kendall County has not seen any people dying at their homes due to COVID-19 as of Monday.
Kendall County Health Department officials said in a Monday, May 18 news release there are 22 total COVID-19 related deaths from the county.
Coroner officials said in the Monday statement more information regarding deaths that occur within county borders will be provided via social media every Monday.
• This story has been updated to include additional comment from Dr. Amaal Tokars, executive director for the Kendall County Health Department.