"Alzheimer's was the cause of death, and COVID-19 was not even a contributing condition," Dake's son, Jack Dake Jr., told the Oklahoman. "Yet it's recorded as the only cause of death."
Dake Jr. told the outlet that by the time his dad had been diagnosed with COVID-19, he had already entered one of the last stages of Alzheimer's and would soon enter hospice care.
He had been tested for the coronavirus after being taken to the hospital when nursing home staff said he had a "decreased appetite" and "generalized weakness." At the time of the test, he presented with a fever and cough but no shortness of breath, and he didn't require supplemental oxygen.
Hospital records from a second visit days later — due to a fall that cut his hand — noted that Dake Sr.'s possible COVID-19 symptoms had reduced even more. He presented no fever, no cough, no shortness of breath, and "no other complaints or modifying factors."
Yet when hospice care workers prepared a list of emergency contacts for the family, they listed COVID-19 as the terminal diagnosis. From that point forward, that was the official determination.
"On the day he died, one of the people at the care facility said that his was a COVID-19 death, to which we immediately objected," Dake Jr. recalled. "COVID-19 had nothing whatsoever to do with his death, nor was it an underlying cause. In fact, since he had already been through the symptoms, he was probably negative for the coronavirus and now had antibodies."
"The government is lying about my wife's grandfather's death, and I bet they're lying about many more." https://t.co/MYqgda4Mdj— Townhall.com (@Townhall.com) 1594935000.0
Could there be others?
Now, the family is warning that the government's reporting could be wrong about others, too.
"On June 22, the state Department of Health record[ed] 369 COVID-19 deaths," Dake Jr. said. "We know that number is false, misleading and not true. It's less than that, maybe significantly less than that. Yet government officials at all levels, including at the Legislature, are making very poor decisions based on this information."
In an op-ed on Townhall.com on Thursday, Larry O'Connor wrote: "The government is lying about my wife's grandfather's death, and I bet they're lying about many more."
"The State of Oklahoma insists that Jack Dake Sr. died of the coronavirus, when he simply did not," O'Connor added.
The family says a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guideline is the cause of the problem in their case and potentially in the cases of others.
In April, the CDC issued a report to medical providers on certifying COVID-19 deaths, saying: "In cases where a definite diagnosis of COVID–19 cannot be made, but it is suspected or likely ... it is acceptable to report COVID–19 on a death certificate as 'probable' or 'presumed.'"
Elsewhere in the document, CDC officials added that "if COVID–19 played a role in the death, this condition should be specified on the death certificate."
It could also be that hospitals are incentivized to list COVID-19 diagnoses, the family said.
It is true, after all, that under the CARES Act, hospitals receive a 20% reimbursement from the federal government for treating patients diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to a USA Today fact-check.