NYC coronavirus death toll may be thousands more than official tally

Tina Fey

Tina Fey

New York City's coronavirus death toll may be several thousand more than the local government's official tally, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report Monday. That figure is almost 5,300 higher than the official coronavirus tally that counts both lab confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths.

Within the 24,171 excess deaths through May 2 calculated by the CDC are 13,831 people who tested positive for COVID-19, and an additional 5,048 deaths of what the city refers to as "probable" COVID-19 deaths: people who died with the symptoms of the illness but who were either never tested or never tested positive.

Tracking excess mortality is vital in understanding the contribution to the death rate of both COVID-19 and poor availability of care for people with non-COVID conditions, noted researchers, who reported their findings in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

These deaths could be directly or indirectly attributed to the pandemic and counting only the confirmed or probable COVID-19-associated deaths likely underestimates deaths attributable to the pandemic, the researchers said.

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Even deaths caused by the coronavirus are believed to be widely undercounted worldwide, due in large part to limits in testing and the different ways countries count the dead.

Official data from the city's health department that was updated on Sunday afternoon found 14,753 confirmed COVID-19-related fatalities and almost 5,200 probable deaths.

Those fatalities could be in some way attributable to the pandemic, created by such factors as "the demand on hospitals and health care providers and public fear related to COVID-19", the report found.

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