Postmortem

‘Last Responders’ Seek To Expand Postmortem COVID Testing In Unexplained Deaths

Examining dead bodies and probing for a cause of death is rarely seen as a heroic or glamorous job. Rather, as the coronavirus pandemic has unfolded, all eyes have been on the medical workers and public health disease detectives fighting on the front lines ― and sometimes giving their lives — to bring the novel coronavirus under control.

But as the crusade to test for the coronavirus and trace cases continues, medical examiners and coroners play a vital — if often unsung ― role. These “last responders” are typically called on to investigate and determine the cause of deaths that are unexpected or unnatural, including deaths that occur at home.

In the early days of the outbreak, a scarcity of tests often hampered their efforts. Now, as that equipment gradually becomes more widely available, these professionals may be able to fill in answers about how people died and if those

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