In the last two weeks, Wisconsin health officials have attributed nearly 1,000 more COVID-19 deaths to long-term care facilities, people that for months had been marked as having died in an "unknown" housing setting.
The state is now reporting 45% of the people who died from COVID-19 were in long-term care facilities, when for months the state had only linked between 26% and 30% of COVID-19 fatalities to long-term care.
Those earlier percentages were much lower than in most other states, including many neighboring ones, and the differences raised questions about the accuracy and timeliness of Wisconsin's count of long-term care deaths.
Until recently, the state was missing information in about half of all COVID-19 deaths and could not say whether those people were long-term care residents. They were listed as COVID-19 deaths with an "unknown" housing setting.
Now, many of them have been reclassified as long-term care residents, a category that covers nursing homes and assisted living centers.
Gov. Tony Evers' administration said the change is part of the normal process of updating the state's health data, including about COVID-19 deaths, and ensuring data quality. They said the state's decentralized system — with data gathered at local health departments — makes data difficult to collect, and said that without an extra step they took, the 1,000 deaths might never have been correctly tied to long-term care facilities.