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CDC Report Shows 94 Percent Of U.S. Covid-19 Deaths Had Contributing Conditions

CDC Report Shows 94 Percent Of U.S. Covid-19 Deaths Had Contributing Conditions

contributing conditions
The CDC says 94 percent of U.S. covid-19 deaths had contributing conditions. Just 6 percent had death certificates listing covid-19 as the only cause of death. A patient on oxygen speaks with her loved one as FDNY paramedics Elizabeth Bonilla, right, and Keith Kahara, left, prepare to load her into their ambulance, April 15, 2020, in the Bronx. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Just 6 percent of people who have died in the U.S. from covid-19 had the virus listed on their death certificate as the only cause of death.

The other 94 percent of people who died from coronavirus also had other “health conditions and contributing causes,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which released new data last week.

The data show what a significant role contributing conditions play in how severe covid-19 can be, ABC News reported. The CDC looked at death certificates, which can lag behind raw death numbers from hospitals and states.

The U.S. has reported 6,195,634 covid-19 cases and 187,521 deaths.

The U.S. has struggled to track fatalities due to spotty testing, delayed lab results and inconsistent reporting standards, USA Today reported. It’s “part and parcel of a patchwork, state-by-state system of medical examiners, coroners and doctors who have disparate medical backgrounds, and in some cases none at all.” 

On average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per (covid-19) death, CDC data shows.


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The top underlying medical conditions involved in covid-19 deaths include:

  • Flu and pneumonia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Hypertensive disease (caused by high blood pressure)
  • Diabetes
  • Vascular and dementia
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Heart failure
  • Renal failure
  • Intentional and unintentional injury, poisoning and other adverse events

The CDC says death certificates are the most reliable source of data, Fox News reported. They contain information that includes comorbidity, race ethnicity and place of death — information not available elsewhere.

Not everyone would agree with the CDC.

Between 20 and 30 percent of U.S. death certificates nationwide were wrong before covid-19 and the pandemic will likely make that worse, according to Bob Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the National Center for Health Statistics.

Anderson spoke to USA Today in an interview published April 25, 2020.

Nearly half of the physicians surveyed in 2010 by the CDC admitted that they knowingly reported an inaccurate cause of death. A review of Missouri hospitals in 2017 found nearly half of death certificates listed an incorrect cause of death. A Vermont study found 51 percent of death certificates had major errors.

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There’s a severe shortage of medical examiners nationwide. 

To further complicate efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus, many medical examiners and coroners refuse to attribute a death to covid-19 without a positive test before the person died. Some medical examiners do post mortem tests.

Some physicians list the cause of death as pneumonia when the pneumonia likely came after a covid-19 infection, Anderson said.

Over the weekend, Twitter removed a tweet that President Donald Trump retweeted for violating Twitter’s rules. The tweet said, incorrectly, that the CDC had updated their numbers to “admit that only 6%” of the country’s coronavirus deaths “actually died from COVID,” according to CNN.

Read more: Coronavirus Is 3rd Leading Cause Of Death Among Black People In The U.S., Experts Say