‘They jumped the gun:’ Why Muscogee County coroner does not believe woman died from COVID-19

Updated: Apr. 13, 2020 at 4:57 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - There are a lot of questions when it comes to the number of deaths related to the novel coronavirus. One that seems to be asked over and over again is, ‘How are medical professionals deciding if someone died from COVID19 or an underlying condition?’

Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan said right now it seems like if someone is positive for the virus when they die, they are being included on the list of those who died from the virus. In some of these cases, he said the coronavirus is probably a contributing factor to someone’s death rather than the main cause.

The youngest person on the Georgia Department of Public Health’s database to die from COVID-19 is 22-year-old Sha’rika Wilson in Muscogee County.

“She’s on the list as the youngest to die and I guess it’s because she did test positive, but, to me, they shouldn’t state she died from the virus because at this point we don’t know that," Bryan said. "I don’t think she did.”

Wilson died April 10 and from the very beginning Bryan was suspicious.

“The E.M.S. personnel and myself pretty much came to the same conclusion," Bryan said. "I personally don’t believe she died from the virus.”

In this tragic death, an infant is left behind to grow up without a mother. Bryan reports just four days before Wilson’s passing, she had an emergency c-section the same day she tested positive for the virus. Bryan believes her death could be a result of complications from that procedure.

“I believe it was a pulmonary embolism or gastrointestinal issue or some kind of complication from the c-section," he said.

Wilson’s body is in Decatur for an autopsy, but Bryan said it will probably be two or three months before results come back.

When it comes to deaths related to COVID-19, just because a person is on the D.P.H. list, their main cause of death may not be the virus.

“Now on a death certificate you have A, B, C and D under causes of death," Bryan said. "The primary cause of death is going to come back and we’re going to find out why she died. Now they may have secondary, third or fourth listed as the coronavirus was a contributing factor but I don’t believe that’s what caused her death, to be honest with you.”

Wilson’s child is with their father.

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