Washington removes homicides, suicides from COVID-19 deaths

SEATTLE -- Washington health officials on Wednesday removed seven deaths from the state’s official COVID-19 mortality count, including three homicides.

The Department of Health said it had been counting as coronavirus deaths all people who died and tested positive for the disease. Authorities say they have now removed deaths from the count that weren’t caused specifically by COVID-19.

Those deaths included three homicides, two suicides and two overdoses. The department osaid four of the deaths were in King County and three were in Yakima County.

Going forward, authorities say they will attempt to be more specific about whether a death was caused by the coronavirus or whether a person died of other causes.

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Investigators with the VA Office of the Inspector General said they traced eBay transactions to an account run by Wamsley. They said they also spoke with an Ohio resident who bought one of the portable respirators for $6,140 and uses it to treat his chronic lung disease.

“Right now respiratory support equipment is critical in medical care for those suffering with COVID-19 infections,” Seattle U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran said in a news release. “To steal and sell equipment needed to care for our veterans is a shocking betrayal.”

Wamsley agreed to be interviewed by investigators at the medical center while others searched his home, the complaint said. Wamsley initially denied stealing the items or having any knowledge of the eBay account at issue, but subsequently admitted investigators would find stolen equipment at his home and turned over his phone, which had screenshots of information for the eBay account as well as photos of respiratory equipment being sold, it said.