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COVID increases local deaths, changes death investigations

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Over a deadly 12 months in the U.S., where COVID-19 has claimed half a million lives, even the manner of handling deaths has changed for government officials.

La Crosse County medical examiner Tim Candahl said the pandemic forced his office to conduct death investigations differently — with county workers calling on the phone or standing outside buildings to look into deaths.

Candahl told a county committee Wednesday that COVID-19 was cited as a factor in 150 of the 909 deaths investigated in La Crosse County during 2020, even though the official death toll from the virus by the La Crosse County Health Department is 78.

Candahl said deaths in the county increased about 70 percent in 2020, compared to 2019.

Not even counting those 78 COVID-19 deaths, the number still went up, and Candahl said he can’t explain that.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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