New York – The United States has recorded at least 66,000 more deaths than usual so far this year, according to government information, and the presence of the coronavirus explains much of the increase, but not all.
Generally, the country has around 1 million deaths by the end of April, which means the increase is around 7%.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which released the data a few days ago, found that coronavirus was reported to be a cause in about half of excess deaths. The virus was likely a factor in many other deaths, said Robert Anderson, who oversees CDC’s death statistics work.RELATED
However, COVID-19 is not the only reason for the increase.
Medical examiners said drug overdoses, falls and certain types of home accidents may be on the rise. Experts also believe that at least some of the additional deaths may have been from people with heart problems or other conditions who decided not to go to the hospital because of concerns that they were full of people with coronavirus.
“Everyone is afraid of going to the hospital. And they could be dying more often because they are not taking care of their coronary arteries, “said doctor Arnold Monto, a researcher at the University of Michigan who studies influenza and coronaviruses.
The virus has become the leading cause of death in some places.
In Connecticut, it was the leading reason for deaths in April, said Dr. James Gill, the state’s chief medical examiner. The office has handled more than 2,300 coronavirus-related death records since late March. Typically, the state averages 2,500 deaths in a typical month.
Five states — Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia — each recorded at least 3,000 more deaths than usual during the past week, according to an analysis of provisional death record data from the National Center for Health Statistics from the CDC.
The analysis was based on data from last week. The most recent week figures are not as complete as older information, Anderson said. It may take weeks for death certificate data to catch up with case reports, which suggest that the country’s current death toll from COVID-19 is over 60,000.
Forensic doctors are working harder to ensure that cases of the virus are accounted for, although scientists are still trying to determine how accurate the tests are for the deceased.
Connecticut researchers, for example, examined 160 bodies in funeral homes for coronaviruses, and more than half gave positive results.
“Many of those death records had things like ‘respiratory failure’ and other non-specific causes of death,” said Gill. “If we hadn’t gone to take samples, those would have been deaths that were lost.”
In some places, especially rural settings, coroners may not have the staff to ask about coronavirus symptoms every time there is a death, said Dr. Sally Aiken, the Spokane County coroner in Washington state and president of the National Association of Forensic Physicians. Lack of evidence is also a problem.
Aiken has instructed coroners across the country to rescue specimens for future testing. The CDC recently used that type of testing to uncover two coronavirus deaths that restore public understanding of when infections began to spread in California, he said.
“Maybe you don’t have the proof you need today, but you probably will at some point,” said Aiken.
He also offered a surprising observation: Orders to stay home may keep many people off the streets in some places, but it does not necessarily mean that deaths from car accidents have decreased.
“In my area, they are probably the same, because the few people out there are deciding they want to drive like crazy because there is no traffic and then they have accidents,” said Aiken.