Coronavirus Deaths Undercounted, not Overcounted

Coronavirus Deaths Undercounted, not Overcounted April 29, 2020

It’s become almost a mantra on the right among Trump supporters — the number of deaths from the coronavirus is being exaggerated by hospitals, therefore Trump is doing a much better job dealing with the problem than others think. But a new study finds that the number of deaths is actually undercounted, destroying this talking point.

In the early weeks of the coronavirus epidemic, the United States recorded an estimated 15,400 excess deaths, nearly two times as many as were publicly attributed to covid-19 at the time, according to an analysis of federal data conducted for The Washington Post by a research team led by the Yale School of Public Health.

The excess deaths — the number beyond what would normally be expected for that time of year — occurred during March and through April 4, a time when 8,128 coronavirus deaths were reported…

But in any pandemic, higher-than-normal mortality is a starting point for scientists seeking to understand the full impact of the disease.

The Yale analysis for the first time estimates excess deaths, both nationally and in each state, in those five weeks. Relying on data that the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) released Friday, the analysis paints a picture of unusually high mortality that will come into sharper view as more data becomes available.

And the lack of testing means that the number who currently have the virus is also being seriously undercounted, which means the number of deaths is going to continue to increase.

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