FILE - Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Illinois Department of Public Health, 1-30-2020

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, speaks at a news conference Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, in Chicago.

(The Center Square) – For fewer than 400 COVID-19-related deaths in Illinois since the beginning of the pandemic, the virus was the only listed contributing cause, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rest of those in Illinois who died had other comorbidities, with COVID-19 as the primary cause.

As of Tuesday’s report from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois has recorded 8,064 deaths from COVID-19. IDPH does not provide the breakdown of how many COVID-19 related deaths were COVID-19 only or deaths involving other health-related factors.

The CDC published data on Friday, however, that broke down each state’s COVID-19 deaths through Aug 15.

“For 6% of the deaths [nationwide], COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned,” the CDC reported. “For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.”

Illinois matches up with the national average.

For Illinois, of the 7,175 total COVID-19 related deaths the CDC reported through Aug. 15, the Illinois Department of Public Health said 94 percent of the deaths, or 6,779, COVID-19 was the main cause of death among other comorbidities. COVID-19 was the contributing cause of death – the only cause listed – in 6 percent, or 396 of the deaths.

"Illinois has 7,175 deaths that mention COVID-19 as the underlying cause or a contributing cause of death," CDC mortality statistician Farida Ahmad said via email. "For 396 of those deaths, COVID-19 was not the underlying cause of death, but was a contributing cause of death. The underlying cause of death is the condition that began the chain of events that ultimately led to the decedent’s demise. For deaths where COVID-19 is the underlying cause of death, it is possible (and likely) that there were also other conditions listed as contributing causes of death."

IDPH said on Monday the number it compiles is the underlying cause of death or a contributing cause of death.

“Normally, public health officials investigate and gather additional information before reporting a death," an IDPH spokesperson said. "With COVID-19, as IDPH investigates and learns more information about each death, the total number of deaths are adjusted.”

The department also said that people who tested positive for COVID-19 at the time of death, but died from something else – such as a car crash, homicide, or suicide – were not included in the state’s COVID-19 death tally.

On Tuesday, IDPH announced 39 additional deaths in its latest 24-hour report.

Of nearly 35,000 total hospital beds in Illinois, there were 1,513 COVID-19 patients hospitalized. There were more than 14,000 available hospital beds statewide.

Staff Reporter

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other statewide issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience, and previously hosted “Bishop On Air,” a morning-drive current events talk show.