NEWS

Lexington County Coroner’s Office overloaded because of COVID-related deaths

There were 235 people who died in Lexington County in 2020 who had COVID-19 at the time of their death, according to the Lexington County Coroner’s Office. The pandemic started in March, so the numbers are for nine months.

The death count for Lexington County in 2019 was more than 2,500. In 2020 it was around 3,000, according to data from the LCCO. Lexington is the sixth largest county in population in the state.

Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher said the increase in deaths has increased the workload for her office and its 11 employees. “We could use another full-time position,” she said.

Margaret Fisher – Coroner

The coroner’s office staff has not been approved for the COVID vaccine and neither have funeral home personnel, who are also dealing with large numbers of COVID-related deaths.

Fisher said any deaths in the county reported as COVID-related means that the deceased was COVID positive at the time of death.
The month with the highest number of COVID deaths in the county in 2020 was July, with 56. The new year is starting out with higher COVID death numbers.

“We’ve had 68 COVID-related deaths already in January, and it’s only the 20th of the month,” Fisher said last Wednesday.
She said the deaths reported as COVID may have been a patient with another condition.

“For instance,” Fisher said, “if someone has COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and gets COVID, that is a comorbidity.

According to the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, the average age of a person dying in the state, with COVID, is 78. Fisher said that her office is seeing many of the COVID deaths being of people in the the older age group.

The LCCO has also reported an increase in drug overdose deaths and suicides in 2020. There were 60 overdose deaths in 2019, and 104 in 2020, according to unofficial totals.

Candace Berry, Chief Deputy Coroner in the office of Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher provided the statistics.
In 2019 there were 51 suicides, compared to approximately 56 suicides in 2020.