COVID-19 Information

COVID-19 Information

The following information regarding COVID-19 is being provided as a resource for Hospitals, Skilled Nursing Facilities and Family Members as to the role of the Benton County Coroner’s Office in a COVID-19 related death.


·        Known COVID-19 Deaths do not need to be reported to the Coroner

·        COVID-19 Deaths should be reported to the Benton-Franklin Health District

·        The Benton County Coroner’s Office will not perform autopsies on COVID-19 Deaths, OSHA and others have recommended that autopsies not be performed in COVID-19 Deaths. Cases with extenuating circumstances will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

·        The Washington State Department of Health has issued guidelines for completing death certificates in these deaths

·        Report other cases, as usual, to the coroner’s office such as drug overdoses, motor vehicle collision deaths, and suicides, etc.


Family Members:

·        OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) recommends that autopsies not be performed on people who are known to have died from COVID-19, such as people who die in the hospital and have a positive COVID-19 test

·        The coroner’s office does not perform COVID-19 testing on all deceased persons, but will review each death on a case-by-case basis to determine the necessity of a COVID-19 test.

·        The coroner’s office is screening each death reported to us by obtaining information about their symptoms before death: (travel, fever, coughing, shortness of breath and other flu-like symptoms)

·        Coroner investigators investigate natural deaths that occur in private residences.  If a person dies at home and has symptoms typical of COVID-19, testing for Coronavirus may be performed, at the discretion of the Benton County Coroner's Office on a case-by-case basis.

·        The coroner’s office is primarily involved with deaths that are suicides, homicides, or accidents.  Natural deaths, such as COVID-19 deaths, that occur in a medical facility or skilled nursing facility, ordinarily are not under Coroner’s jurisdiction


Nursing Homes:

·        Do not report all your deaths to the Coroner during the pandemic

·        In patients who are known to have COVID-19 because of a positive test, the death does not need to be reported to the Coroner’s Office, however all such deaths (positive for COVID-19) are to be reported to the Benton-Franklin Health District

·        It is presumed that since Nursing Home patients have a physician of record, that physician will sign the death certificate

·        During the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to report deaths to the Coroner as per policy, reporting accidents, and other non-natural deaths

·        For deaths that are suspected, but undiagnosed COVID-19 deaths, with typical symptoms, contact the Benton-Franklin Health District for guidance.


Benton County    620 Market Street    Prosser, Washington 99350
Phone: (509) 786-5710 or (509) 783-1310
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