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The US is Dramatically Overcounting Coronavirus Deaths

Editor’s Note: Timothy Craig Allen, MD, JD, contributed to this column. 

Over 86,500 people have reportedly died in the United States from the Coronavirus, and the fear generated by those deaths is driving the public policy debate. But that number is a dramatic overcount. Our metrics include deaths that have nothing to do with the virus. The problem is even worse as the Centers for Disease Control over counts even some of these cases and the government has created financial incentives for this misreporting. Relying on these flawed numbers is destroying businesses and jobs and costing lives.

“The case definition is very simplistic,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of Illinois Department of Public Health, explains. “It means, at the time of death, it was a COVID positive diagnosis. That means, that if you were in hospice and had already been given a few weeks to live, and then you also were found to have COVID, that would be counted as a COVID death. It means, technically even if you died of clear alternative cause, but you had COVID at the same time, it’s still listed as a COVID death.”

Medical examiners in Michigan use the same definition. In Macomb and Oakland Counties, where most of the deaths occurred, medical examiners classify any deaths as Coronavirus deaths when the postmortem test is positive. Even people who died in suicides and automobile accidents meet that definition.

Still, these broad definitions are not due to a few rogue public health officials. The rules direct them to do this. Unlike other countries, “if someone dies with COVID-19, we are counting that as a COVID-19 death,” as Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, recently noted.

Classifications go beyond even these broad categories. New York is classifying cases as Coronavirus deaths even when postmortem tests have been negative. Despite negative tests, classifications are based on symptoms, even though the symptoms are often very similar to those of the seasonal flu. The Centers for Disease Control guidance explicitly acknowledges the uncertainty that doctors can face. When Coronavirus cases are “suspected,” they advise doctors that “it is acceptable to report COVID-19 on a death certificate.”

That isn’t just a theoretical issue. On April 21st, when New York City’s death toll rose above 10,000, the New York Times reported that the city included “3,700 additional people who were presumed to have died of the coronavirus but had never tested positive” – a more than 50 percent increase in the number of cases.

But the problem is worse than this broad definition implies. Birx and others believe that the CDC is over counting cases. The Washington Post reports they are concerned that the CDC’s “antiquated” accounting system is double counting cases and inflating mortality and case counts “by as much as 25 percent.”

There are additional reasons for concern. Some doctors feel pressure from hospitals to list deaths as due to the Coronavirus, even when they don’t believe that is the case, “to make it look a little bit worse than it is.” There are financial incentives that might make a difference for hospitals and doctors. The CARES Act adds a 20 percent premium for COVID-19 Medicare patients.

Incentives matter. When the government increased the disability compensation for air traffic controllers, a lot more controllers suddenly started claiming to be disabled. When unemployment insurance payments increase, more people become unemployed and stay unemployed for longer periods. When the government offers flood insurance that charges everyone the same insurance premium regardless of the risk level in their area, more people build homes in frequently flooded areas.

The Washington Post and others claim that we are undercounting the true number of deaths. They reach that conclusion by showing the total number of deaths from all causes is greater than we would normally expect from March through early May, and that this excess is actually due to deaths not being accurately labeled as due to the Coronavirus. But these are simply not normal times. Lots of people with heart and other problems aren’t going to the hospital for fear of the virus. Surgeries for many serious conditions are being put off. The stress of the situation is increasing suicides and other illnesses.

https://townhall.com/columnists/johnrlottjr/2020/05/16/the-us-is-dramatically-overcounting-coronavirus-deaths-n2568925

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Susan Rarick
Susan Rarick
May 18, 2020

People have to remember that to most progressives there was no better place to live than Eastern Europe under Communist rule. The problem is most of them think they are going to be in the group of elites when in fact most of those folk were very conservative i.e. y’all are gonna end up in re-education camps most likely.

Cassandra
Cassandra
May 18, 2020

And yet, people who die in their homes, even if they die of covid-19, do not get counted in the virus statistics. Let’s just end this stupid claim of “overstatement” because its only purpose is to deny the severity of the pandemic. Standard coroner protocol is to list the COD as a covid-19 death if covid-19 was the underlying cause of death. This virus attacks every organ in the body, so if you have it and then die of liver failure, the COD is covid-19. Underlying conditions may make you more susceptible to covid-19 death, but if they have been… Read more »

ManintheMoon
ManintheMoon
Reply to  Cassandra
May 18, 2020

I’m afraid you’re wrong on this, Cassandra. Pressure is being put on doctors to list as a covid-19 as cause of death on the death certificate even if it’s a minor contributory factor. This is the case in all the countries where there are lockdowns. The reason is obvious, because this is the only way to justify the massive infringement of civil liberties. The main reason why Germany has far fewer deaths of covid-19 is not their superior health service (which is true) but because doctors there are more independent. In fact, if you take the lockdown countries own statistics,… Read more »

Craig Watson
Reply to  ManintheMoon
May 18, 2020

And they are reimbursed $13,000 more if a covid-19 death, and $37,000 more if they put that person on a respirator. These are major cash incentives, obviously, to do what the politicians want – scare everyone and I’ll pay you for it! In fact, these respirators have been reported to be in reality dangerous in most cases and even lead to death in many cases. Do not believe a word from this government and MSM.

ManintheMoon
ManintheMoon
Reply to  Craig Watson
May 18, 2020

Thanks for that, Craig. Really barely credible!

ToivoS
ToivoS
Reply to  Cassandra
May 18, 2020

Cassandra you absolutely correct. The number of deaths in NYC over the last two months exceed by at least a factor of 2 the number of deaths expected based on death counts over the previous 5 years. What that means is that the official number of deaths due to covid-19 is probably about half of the actual number. Of course, part of this increased death count may be attributed to the fact that NY ER rooms have been overwhelmed by covid-19 cases and had to turn away patients that could have been otherwise saved. I find it difficult to believe… Read more »

ManintheMoon
ManintheMoon
Reply to  ToivoS
May 19, 2020

Your last point is the obvious explanation. It is predictable the lockdown itself would lead to more deaths. People are not seeking medical treatment for heart problems or strokes or cancer because they are scared. The fear factor itself and the stress caused will lead to deaths. You can be sure that every single death that covid-19 could contribute to is bein counted as due to it. I did not know that doctors actually are being paid to do so, as Craig points out.

jdd
jdd
May 19, 2020

Hardly, the US toll if if anything, like that of most others, is low balled. For example, many deaths in hospitals and nursing homes are significantly under reported and attributed to the underlying health issue of the deceased.

Tjoe
Tjoe
May 19, 2020

I use the anti-viral ethyl alcohol, put it on a cloth and breath through my nose and mouth into my sinus and lungs, where the virus grows before it infects the entire body. I wipe a little around and breath through cupped hands into the nose and mouth. The EA damages the virus protection and then your antibodies see it as “foreign”. Don’t wait for a vaccine, go to your liquor store and buy a bottle of Ever Clear that is 190 proof or 95% ethyl alcohol (made for human consumption and taxed). My $10 1/2 pint lasted 6 weeks.… Read more »

Veraciti
Veraciti
May 20, 2020

Official figures have no meaning as doctors et al are coerced to include anyone dying as a covid death to boost the numbers to make this scamdemic more credible.
What and who is behind this plandemic:

Letter to Govs
https://bit.ly/2Lolgh9
All the 𝗘𝗩𝗜𝗗𝗘𝗡𝗖𝗘 you need re covid:
https://bit.ly/3aDEY2o

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