Venango coroner reports multiple COVID deaths

Christina Rugh

Seven Venango County residents who contracted COVID-19 have died in the county since Friday, according to coroner Christina Rugh.

Rugh said six of the seven are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, according to their death certificates. She said the other death isn't yet confirmed to have been caused by the virus, but the person had tested positive for COVID-19.

"It looks like some of these would have had a positive test within a week of their death," she said.

Rugh said four of the confirmed COVID-19 deaths occurred at Oil City Healthcare & Rehabilitation. The one unconfirmed COVID-19 death also occurred at the facility, Rugh said.

One person is confirmed to have died from COVID-19 while at home, Rugh said.

One person died from COVID-19 at UPMC Northwest according to a doctor, Rugh said, but she is still waiting to see the death certificate.

Rugh said the seven people who died were in the age ranges of late 60s to 90 and had preexisting conditions like hypertension, diabetes, chronic breathing issues or COPD.

"And really that's the issue with COVID. It exacerbates health issues that people have," Rugh said.

The state Department of Health on Monday continued to report only one COVID-19 death in Venango County.

Rugh said this just highlights the issues coroners have with the state's decision not to allow them to report COVID-19 deaths.

"If I know this information, it should probably be out there a little faster than the Department of Health is reporting it," she said.

Rugh said it will likely take the state Department of Health two to four days to update some of the reported COVID-19 deaths in Venango County.

The reason Rugh said she is aware of COVID-19 deaths in the county is because she gets notified by hospitals and nursing homes.

"I want to give props to UPMC Northwest and Oil City Healthcare for at least notifying me," Rugh said.

Rugh said an eighth person died in Venango County since Friday from COVID-19, but that person, who died at UPMC Northwest, was an Armstrong County resident and shouldn't be counted in the state's reported death totals for Venango County.

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