Georgia State Office of Vital Records

Georgia State Office of Vital Records

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Greetings from the State Office of Vital Records,

We understand that many other offices have closed, or limited their functions to essential services due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

For Vital Records, we would consider the top priority essential services to be 1) Issuing disposition permits, and 2) registering death records. We believe that these functions can largely be accomplished through e-mail, fax, or online through GAVERS.

A secondary priority would be issuing certified copies of birth and death records. If a county has access to their facility in order to print records, we ask that they consider issuing certificate orders by mail. That will limit the visitors to the building, but still allow customers to receive their certificates.

Lastly, good communication will be crucial during this time. We ask that county registrars communicate any changes in local operations to stakeholders like funeral directors, coroners, and birth hospitals. Please be alert for any additional communications from Georgia DPH and the State Office of Vital Records. We will share more information as it becomes available. The response to COVID-19 is changing rapidly, and we appreciate everyone’s cooperation.


Chris Harrison

Additional Information from Chris Harrison, MPH, Georgia State Registrar, Deputy Director.

Generally speaking COVID-19 should not be on line A. If COVID-19 is the underlying cause of death it would be listed on the lowest line used of lines A-D. In the attached guidance document that we sent there was screenshot that showed COVID-19 listed on line B (it doesn’t seem to have the screenshot in the scan you sent). None of the guidance we have sent or shared from the CDC has COVID-19 on the first line. 

The way to think of the cause of death lines is:

The patient died of Line A, which was cause by Line B, which was caused by Line C, which was caused by Line D.

A sequence for a COVID-19 death could be something like: 

acute respiratory failure (line A), which was caused by pneumonia (line B), which was caused by COVID-19 (line C).

If COVID-19 were listed on the first line, it would mean the COVID-19 was caused by acute respiratory failure, which doesn’t make sense and wouldn’t be accurate.

  • The first line (A) should contain the immediate cause of death. That is, whatever condition the patient was experiencing in the minutes or hours prior to death. For example, “Acute respiratory failure” could be an immediate cause of death, with a duration of “minutes”
  • Listed below this could be intermediate conditions (if applicable), like “bilateral pneumonia” or “sepsis” with an appropriate duration like “days” or “weeks”
  • On the lowest line used would be the condition that cause the entire chain of events above. This is where the COVID-19 should go.
  • Chronic conditions that might be important to consider because the put the patient at risk (asthma, hypertension, diabetes, etc.) should be listed in Part II as significant conditions, because they cannot cause COVID-19 infection (only the pandemic strain of the virus does that).

Chris Harrison, MPH

State Registrar

Deputy Director, Data Integrity & Analytics

State Office of Vital Records

Georgia Department of Public Health

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