MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In a daily briefing Thursday, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm addressed a state senator’s assertion that the state could be overcounting COVID-19 deaths.

The comment in question came from Minnesota State Sen. Scott Jensen, a Republican doctor from Chaska, who has criticized CDC guidance on how to classify COVID-19 deaths.

Jensen claims CDC-issued guidance is leading to overcounting of COVID-19 deaths. He also says there are financial motives involved, too.

Minnesota’s GOP State Sen. Jim Abeler has also echoed Jensen’s comments.

In the daily briefing, Malcolm said there’s been “confusion” and “misinformation” in response to the new CDC guidelines.

“[The CDC guidelines] are detailed, it’s attempting to correct records that were unclear, for very good reasons I think, to get the most accurate count we can,” she said. “Not in any way seeking to inflate the numbers.”

Malcolm says updated guidance is common during major disasters to provide a better picture of how many died due to the disaster.

She said that the misinformation — which has been shared widely on social media — is not true.

“There is absolutely no policy or political motivation to increase the number of deaths that are reported,” Malcolm said.

Malcolm said she hasn’t talked with either Jensen or Abeler, but hopes that she will, so she can clear up any confusion.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious diseases expert and advisor to the White House, has called reports of overcounting coronavirus victims baseless “conspiracy theories.”

As of early Thursday morning, the U.S. has confirmed at least 14,808 deaths from COVID-19.

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