Cook County death toll surpasses 2019 total
Officials announced Wednesday that more people have died in Cook County this year than all of last year – with more than half of this year’s deaths tied to COVID-19.
The Cook County Medical Examiner has handled 6,586 deaths as of Saturday. Of those, 3,518 have been COVID-related deaths, said board President Toni Preckwinkle.
The office handled 6,274 total cases in all of 2019. Preckwinkle said the office averages around 6,300 cases per year.
Along with handling the thousands of COVID-related deaths, Preckwinkle said they have seen an increase in the number of deaths related to overdoses and homicide.
“As the deaths from COVID-19 continue to mount, the homicides and overdoses have not ceased,” she said. “In fact, even without the COVID-19 cases, the medical examiner’s office has seen almost 700 additional cases so far this year.”
Medical Examiner Dr. Ponni Arunkumar said they are reviewing 35 cases from last November through this April to see if deaths originally listed as pneumonia and heart attack-related could be linked to COVID-19.
“If we see some cases from November, we could go further backward, maybe September,” she said.
Arunkumar said the office is also looking to see if the virus played a factor in the deaths of those reported to have flu-like symptoms.
The county’s surge center, which was opened in preparation for COVID-19 deaths, has held about 350 people, Arunkumar said. The daily count is between 120 and 150 bodies.
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