Dr. Stephen Diamantoni

Lancaster County coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni speaks with LNP | LancasterOnline about the impacts and challenges of COVID-19 in the county in this photo taken Wednesday, April 8, 2020. The discussion took place over the video-conferencing app Zoom.

Lancaster County Coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni said his counts include only cases in which his office or attending medical professionals determined COVID-19 was the primary cause of death — either on its own or because it caused a worsening of pre-existing conditions. He’s not counting deaths where COVID-19 is deemed only a contributing factor, even if the person tested positive.

Of the 170 COVID-19 deaths his office reported in the county as of Wednesday, Diamantoni said, the vast majority tested positive for COVID-19 before dying, and his office is now doing post-mortem testing on those who were presumed positive because of symptoms and exposure to a known case.

“I’m confident in our numbers,” he said.

Asked why the state’s numbers were so much lower than his — roughly nine days and 67 deaths behind him as of Wednesday — he said he didn’t know exactly and didn’t want to guess.

State Department of Health spokesman Nate Wardle said in an email Thursday that some “of the reconciliation and behind-the-scenes data analysis that takes days and weeks is being done on a regular basis, and that can lead to fluctuations in the data.”

“We feel confident that as COVID-19 cases and deaths slow down, the data reported by the department will match that of other data sources, such as county health departments and county coroners,” Wardle wrote. “It is important to note that they will have this data in advance of the state, and must then report it to us.”

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