Amended paperwork could mean 1 fewer death for Alaska

Local woman says she’s fixed error which led to misreport

Courtesy photo / Colleen Torrence                                 Marcella Livemond (left) and her niece, Colleen Torrence, smile in an undated photo. Torrence was her aunt’s power of attorney and Livemond’s death in New Jersey from the coronavirus was attributed to Alaska due to clerical error. The error has been fixed, Torrence says, and should be reflected in state data soon.

Courtesy photo / Colleen Torrence Marcella Livemond (left) and her niece, Colleen Torrence, smile in an undated photo. Torrence was her aunt’s power of attorney and Livemond’s death in New Jersey from the coronavirus was attributed to Alaska due to clerical error. The error has been fixed, Torrence says, and should be reflected in state data soon.

The state of Alaska may be able to remove one death related to the coronavirus from its tally after a Juneau woman successfully had her relative’s death certificate amended.

Colleen Torrence previously spoke to the Empire about the death of her aunt, Marcella Livemond, from the coronavirus in New Jersey. Torrence said she believed her aunt’s residence was incorrectly recorded on the death certificate due to a clerical error. Torrence had power of attorney for her aunt and had been receiving Livemond’s mail at her residence in Juneau, and there was confusion regarding which was the address of residency.

Livemond had been living at a long-term assisted living facility in New Jersey.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines dictate deaths related to the coronavirus be reported by the deceased’s state of residence, not where they actually died. Alaska’s first recorded COVID-19 death happened in the state of Washington where an Alaska resident had been living for several months.

[‘A death that wasn’t theirs’: Local woman says Juneau COVID-19 death incorrectly counted]

Torrence said she spoke with Clint Farr, chief of Health Analytics and Vital Records at Department of Health and Social Services, on July 23 to notify him of the change. Farr could not immediately be reached for comment. DHSS could not comment on any specific COVID-19 case, according to research analyst Rebecca Topel.

Torrence also spoke to City and Borough of Juneau Public Information Officer Lisa Phu, to notify the city of the change as well. In an interview Wednesday, Phu said she had reached out to DHSS but hadn’t yet received a response.

“It seems like the people that need to know are starting to find out, and that’ll reflect, hopefully, one less death for the state of Alaska,” Torrence told the Empire Wednesday, adding she was relieved to have the matter settled.

Wednesday afternoon, the state reported the number of deaths with COVID-19 in Alaska was 22, with 34 current hospitalizations and 1,921 active cases, according to state data. The state reported an additional 91 new cases Wednesday, with the majority, 51, coming from Anchorage.

Recent spikes in cases can be partially attributed to outbreaks at seafood processing plants, including Alaska Glacier Seafoods in Auke Bay.

City and Borough of Juneau’s emergency operations center reported one new resident case, which Division of Public Health attributes to the person contracting COVID-19 from a known contact. Juneau now has had 85 residents test positive. for COVID-19, according to the city. Of those cases, 76 residents have recovered and seven cases are active. So far, 61 nonresidents have tested positive, and 28 cases are active.

The rise in cases is largely being seen in young adults in their 20s and 30s, state epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin said at a House Health and Social Services Committee meeting Tuesday. Young adults are more likely to go in to their places of work, meet in organized settings like bars or restaurants and be less compliant with health precautions, McLaughlin said.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.

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