Much worse: CDC report adds an extra 5,000+ deaths to an already reeling NYC

Healthcare workers wheel the bodies of deceased people from the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Brooklyn borough of New York City in early April. (Photo: The Jakarta Post)

The death toll in coronavirus (COVID-19) epicentre New York City could be much worse than the official tally being recorded by the city and state, if analysis by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is to be believed.

There were an additional 5,293 deaths that weren’t previously identified as confirmed or probable coronavirus cases that “might have been directly or indirectly attributable to the pandemic,” the CDC said.

The report, which was released on Monday (May 11), paints a bleak picture with over 24,000 deaths in America’s most populous metropolis between March 11 and May 2.

According to the CDC the “excess deaths” could have been caused by by-products of pandemic, the report found, including “the demand on hospitals and health care providers and public fear related to COVID-19” prompting delays in people seeking or receiving lifesaving care.

The CDC, in its report disclosed that tracking the excess mortality is important to “understanding the contribution to the death rate from both COVID-19 disease and the lack of availability of care for non-COVID conditions.”

The governing body on infectious disease admitted further investigation is required.

The report, however, underscored the challenges authorities face in assessing — and quantifying — the human toll of the crisis.

In the data, compiled by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, even deaths caused by COVID-19 are believed to be widely undercounted worldwide, due in large part to limits in testing and the different ways countries count the dead.

Through Sunday (May 10), New York City had recorded nearly 14,800 deaths confirmed by a lab test and another nearly 5,200 probable deaths where no test was available but doctors are sure enough to list the virus on the death certificate.

In its analysis, the CDC argued that the 5,293 excess deaths were on top of both confirmed and probable fatalities. The grim report found that deaths of people with chronic health problems like heart disease and diabetes — conditions closely associated with coronavirus mortality — “might not be recognised as being directly attributable to COVID-19.”