Health leaders disagree with Roanoke being on New York Times list for coronavirus deaths

New York Times uses daily COVID19 deaths to help predict future outbreaks

Roanoke tops NYTimes list for virus deaths, but health leaders say reporting isn’t accurate
Roanoke tops NYTimes list for virus deaths, but health leaders say reporting isn’t accurate

ROANOKE, Va. – Local health leaders say they’re concerned with the New York Times’ reporting on COVID-19 cases in Roanoke.

The Times said Roanoke is second in the country for daily death rate increases, but the Department of Health said that’s just not true.

Dr. Molly O’Dell leads the Roanoke-Alleghany Health District. She and Dr. Thomas Kerkering with Virginia Tech Carilion sent a letter to the New York Times asking them to correct the mistake.

“My first thought was where did they get this information?” O’Dell said. "Whether that’s erroneous as we’ll assume this is, or whether that’s intentional, we have to be curious individuals.”

In a New York Times data tracker, the Roanoke metro area sits on a list it does not want to be on. It’s ranked second in the country for the highest average daily growth rate of COVID-19 deaths. O’Dell said the Times mistook regional data for local data and then made another error.

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“Then the second thing they did, is attribute those deaths to having occurred over a two-week period, and all of those deaths have occurred over an eight-week period,” O’Dell said.

A New York Times spokesperson responded to a 10 News request for comment.


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