COVID-19 Deaths: Undercounted, not Overblown

While some in the US continue to assert that America’s COVID-19 death count—now 200,000+—is overblown, it's not.

How do we know?
 
3 Lines of Evidence: case surveillance, vital statistics data, and excess deaths, Scientific American reports.
 
In terms excess deaths, the CDC’s latest numbers suggest an undercount is more likely. 

  • Nearly 300,000 more people died in the US from late January–early October compared to averages in recent years—but just two-thirds of those were counted as COVID-19 deaths, STAT reports. 

Racial Breakdown: Coronavirus mortality confirms well-known racial disparities. Excess deaths rose by: 

  • 11.9% for whites
  • 53.6% for Latinxs
  • 32.9% for Blacks
  • 28.9% for American Indians and Alaska Natives

 
The CDC acknowledges that the aging and growing US population make it harder to draw a direct comparison between 2020 and previous years. Still, it is certain that more people died from COVID-19 than received an official diagnosis.
 
Silver Lining: While the death rate is still higher than many infectious diseases, doctors are getting better at keeping hospitalized COVID-19 patients from dying, NPR reports.

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