corona masks shopping

Shoppers wear face masks at the Acme on Sunday in London Grove Township.

WEST CHESTER — The Chester County Coroner's office is reporting seven county residents have succumbed to coronavirus, but officially, county commissioners are reporting three people have died.

The discrepancy was revealed at a telephone Town Hall conference Monday afternoon hosted by the county commissioners.

Responding to a question asked by MediaNews Group about the report by Chester County Coroner Dr. Christina VandePol and the discrepancy, Chester County Commissioners’ Chairwoman Marian Moskowitz said county officials are looking into it.

"Many times what we see is a timing issue," she said. "By the time we pull data, we may not have received info on those deaths. Secondly, staff had received it after the data had been pulled and works through that data throughout the day. We are in contact with (VandePol) to make sure we have the same data."

There are now 304 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus in Chester County, with 21 hospitalized, representing 7 percent of all positive cases. The spike of 38 cases in a single day, from Sunday to Monday, represents the largest since the crisis began. The majority of coronavirus cases in Chester County have come in the past three days.

Of the three on the county's official list of coronavirus fatalities, one is from Honey Brook, one from Willistown and one from Tredyffrin. The majority of those testing positive are in the 20 to 29 age range.

Also on Monday, county commissioners confirmed that four staffers at the Chester County Prison have tested positive for coronavirus, with one of them hospitalized. Four inmates have also tested positive, three with mild symptoms. The fourth is hospitalized for non-coronavirus reasons in stable conditions.

“We now have two ‘home deaths’ positively identified as COVID-19 related," Vandepol said. "Plus, there is at least one more person who died at home and not under a doctor’s case whose body is at the coroner’s office that needs to be tested to see if it was positive for coronavirus."

VandePol said it was a priority that county coroner’s offices like hers across the state need to be given stockpiles of coronavirus testing kits so they can have immediate access, instead of waiting for kits to be delivered for the county Health Department of a local hospital.

VandePol said testing can be done after death and get a positive result.

“I think this is going to be a very rough week for us,” she said, echoing comments made by the nation’s surgeon general. “The numbers we are seeing suggest a rapid increase in the number of deaths.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed as of Monday there are 1,470 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 12,980 in 65 counties. Nationwide, more than 10,000 have died from the virus.

“Anyone who is sick, I highly recommend that they be tested,” VandePol said. “If you are feeling sick enough to call your health provider, my opinion is that you should be tested.”

Staff writer Mike Rellahan contributed to this story.

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