Dr. Stack answers questions from Ky. lawmakers about COVID testing, death statistics

Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 4:22 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Dr. Steven Stack answered questions from state representatives and senators for about two hours Thursday afternoon:

WATCH: Dr. Stack testifies before lawmakers in Frankfort

WATCH: Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack testifies before lawmakers in Frankfort.

Posted by WKYT on Thursday, September 10, 2020

The questions mainly had to do with COVID-19 testing in the commonwealth, and how those numbers are reported.

Senator Danny Carroll said he had heard numerous concerns about the inaccuracies of the tests, but Dr. Stack said the two most used tests had accuracy rates of 97-99 percent.

“There is a stress that is put on our people as a result of these numbers,” said Senator Carroll.

Carroll said he also had concerns about the state’s numbers because of some tests are coming in after a delay. Dr. Stack said while the data is imperfect, it is still valuable and helps guide decision making when given proper context.

“The data has limitations, that the data is imperfect but even allowing for those things the data is incredibly valuable, incredibly informative. It helps to guide decision-making when used in proper context,” said Dr. Stack.

He went on to say that he felt they were doing the best they could given an antiquated system. One of those lawmakers Senator Karen Berg, who is a doctor from Louisville, said she was upset by some of the questions other lawmakers were asking.

“My colleagues are dying. People I have worked with for years and years and years are getting sick and dying,” said Senator Berg. “And somebody’s asking did they die on a Tuesday or did the day on Wednesday? I don’t mean to be upset that you all have upset me terribly because I’m on the front line, he’s on the front line. I’m going to the hospital and fighting this disease every day.”

Stack was asked if he had any problems using those numbers since they would sometimes change with new information.

“There are a number of things that you conveyed that frame this incorrectly,” Dr. Stack said “I don’t feel my ethics are compromised or challenged. I feel my ethics are well-maintained and preserved and that we are dealing in good faith. The best we can do to the best of our ability and understanding.”

Dr. Stack was also asked about a statistic that said 94% of people who died from a COVID-related illness had an underlying condition. He said he didn’t think was newsworthy and had said all along people with other health conditions are most at risk for a bad outcome.

“What that means is, 94% of the people who have died with COVID had other problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, lung disease,” said Dr. Stack. “You know kidney failure, things like that. We have said all along that the most vulnerable populations are people over 60 or 65 and people with chronic medical conditions.”

Stack was also asked about the response to the coronavirus compared to the flu. He said that we already have a program in place for the flu, encouraging people to get flu shots. He also said the reason the response was so different because 190,000 Americans have died in six months.

Copyright 2020 WKYT. All rights reserved.

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