US COVID-19 deaths likely higher than official counts, new CDC data indicates

Anuja Vaidya (Twitter) - Print  | 

The death toll in seven states hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic could be 50 percent higher than originally reported from March 8 to April 11, new CDC data shows, according to The New York Times.

Provisional deaths from all causes in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois, Maryland and Colorado show that death counts have spiked far above the numbers that each state usually reported during the five weeks from March to April.

Provisional death counts are based on death records received and processed by National Center for Health Statistics as of a specified cutoff date, according to the CDC. For the analysis, the Times compared provisional death counts with the average number of deaths each week over the last five years.

In New York City, the number of deaths during the five-week period is more than three times the normal number, and in New Jersey, deaths have been 172 percent of the normal number so far, which equates to about 5,000 additional deaths compared to the average death count reported over the last five years.

The Times notes that the data is "partial and most likely undercounts the recent death toll significantly."

The numbers are also preliminary, and CDC death counts can take about eight weeks to be finalized.

Though it is difficult to know whether the gap between excess deaths counted and the official counts of coronavirus deaths show an undercounting of coronavirus deaths or a spike in deaths from other causes, the data is at odds with the notion that people who die from the virus would have died from other causes anyway, the Times reports.

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