MORGANTOWN — Monongalia County Board of Health President Sam Chico said the health department needs to start compiling all available data on the county’s severe COVID-19 cases and deaths, even if he has to help fund that research.
During a recent gathering of the board, Chico asked County Health Officer Lee Smith if the health department could access detailed information on COVID-19 patients in order to better highlight any evident commonalities, including comorbidities like obesity.
Smith said the information is available, but it hasn’t been compiled as the MCHD has been focused on the day-to-day scramble of combating the pandemic.
Smith went on to say that pulling the information together will be more involved than checking death certificates, many of which do not include the kind of detailed information they should.
“For example, we now know that obesity is a comorbid factor of significance because it’s associated with death. But more importantly, it’s a body mass index of 35% or greater,” Smith said. “Well, you don’t get that until you get correct information put in the death certificate. Otherwise, somebody has to go comb through the entire chart, and we’re just not there yet. We will definitely do that.”
Chico said he would support putting together a paid group of researchers, possibly medical, nursing or public health students, to begin collecting the information.
“It’s life or death and we’re running blind without this information,” he said. “Let’s assemble a team. Let’s find the dollars. I will personally contribute. Let’s get this information.”
Smith said he doesn’t believe such data is being compiled at the state level either.
“Well, I’m certain as soon as we do a good job at it, they’ll come in and take it over,” Chico responded. “So lets get the ball rolling.”