Clearing up COVID-19 death count misconceptions

Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 6:15 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - This past weekend “6%” was trending on social media because of a CDC report that said 6% of COVID-19 deaths are strictly from the coronavirus.

But doctors tell us that number is misleading.

The National Center for Health Statistics puts out a data report weekly for the CDC.

Last week, the report broke down what death certificates say in regards to COVID-19.

Six-percent of the death certificates had only coronavirus listed as a cause of death leading many people to jump to the conclusion that roughly only 9,000 people have died from the virus.

But that doesn’t tell the whole truth.

The other 94% of coronavirus deaths have COVID-19 listed as a cause of death but also other co-morbidities such as diabetes or heart disease.

At today’s weekly update, Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box weighed in.

“Absolutely incorrect,” Dr. Box said. “It would be like saying that someone that had cancer came in and died of a complication maybe of their treatment that they were receiving or lung metastasis or brain metastasis but they also had hypertension or diabetes on their diagnosis or the death certificate so they didn’t die of their cancer, that is absolutely not true. We know that physicians and health care professionals put down what they see as causes or contributors to an individual’s death. So someone who came in and died of COVID-19 might also have been at higher risk because they had underlying heart disease or lung disease or diabetes or underlying renal failure, but that does not mean that COVID-19 was not a contributing cause to their death.”

Dr. Box also says it’s because of co-morbidities that officials in Indiana are very careful when it comes to counting a coronavirus death.

Each recorded COVID-19 death has had a confirmed positive coronavirus death,

So all 3,106 COVID-19 deaths in Indiana were people who did pass away from the virus.

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