COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina’s coroners are asking the state’s top lawyer whether they have to release the names of people who die because of COVID-19 to the public.
York County Coroner Sabrina Gast sent a letter to Attorney General Alan Wilson asking for his office’s legal opinion on whether the typical information a coroner releases in an unusual death — names, ages and locations — need to be released in COVID-19 deaths.
“Most of the time, natural deaths are of no interest to media, however, you can imagine that in our current environment, the media is very interested. Our concern grows out of safety of the families left behind,” Gast wrote in her letter on behalf of the South Carolina Coroners Association.
Wilson’s office has not published an opinion yet, spokesman Robert Kittle said in an email Tuesday.
The letter was first reported by The Greenville News.
Under state law, hospitals do not have to report deaths to coroners of patients under a doctor’s care for more than 24 hours. Many coronavirus deaths happened in those circumstances, although some coroners said they are told of all hospital deaths.