New York City on Tuesday added 3,778 fatalities to its count of COVID-19 deaths by including cases in which the presence of the viral disease was likely at fault — even if it had not been confirmed with a test.
Before the new cases were added Tuesday, the city had recorded 6,589 COVID-19 fatalities between March 11 and April 13, in which the decedent had tested positive for the viral disease.
The addition of the 3,778 “probable” cases instantly increased recorded deaths across the United States of the disease by 17%, the New York Times reported. The Times first reported that the city was counting probable cases in their fatality numbers Tuesday.
The CDC had recorded 22,252 deaths nationwide of the disease as of Tuesday afternoon. Johns Hopkins University counted just more than 23,000. Neither count “probable” deaths in their tallies, though the CDC has advised states and localities to keep a record of assumed COVID-19 deaths, the Times noted.
“A death is classified as probable if the decedent was a New York City resident (NYC resident or residency pending) who had no known positive laboratory test for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) but the death certificate lists as a cause of death ‘COVID-19’ or an equivalent,” the city said in a document accompanying the new data Tuesday, which a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio shared with TPM. (Read through the document below.)
“In the heat of battle, our primary focus has been on saving lives,” de Blasio press secretary Freddi Goldstein told the Times. “As soon as the issue was raised, the mayor immediately moved to release the data.”
Other data have pointed to a potential undercounting of COVID-19 deaths based on confirmed cases alone — such as data from EMTs and paramedics in New York City, who have seen a dramatic spike in daily cardiac deaths in recent weeks.
The Times reported that city officials had also been gathering data on total “excess” deaths on top of what would be expected without a pandemic — a likely larger count than the “probable” and “confirmed” cases ending with fatalities alone.
In addition to “confirmed” and “probable” deaths, New York City is also keeping a count of total deaths not known to be tied to COVID-19. There were 8,184 of these deaths recorded between March 11 and Monday.
“As new information becomes available, some deaths previously classified as probable or not known to be confirmed or probable COVID-19 may be reclassified as laboratory-confirmed,” the city said in Tuesday’s release.
Read through the city’s data below: