New York City added nearly 4,000 people who never tested positive for the coronavirus to its death toll Tuesday, bringing coronavirus-related deaths in the city to around 10,000 people.
The city decided to add 3,700 people to its death tolls, who they “presumed” to have died from the virus, according to a report from The New York Times. The additions increased the death toll in the U.S. by 17%, according to the Times report, and included people who were suffering from symptoms of the virus, such as intense coughing and a fever. (RELATED: How The Coronavirus Is Infecting Americans’ Civil Liberties)
The Times stated:
A limited number of tests have been available, and until now, only deaths where a person had tested positive were counted among those killed by the virus in New York.
Breaking News: New York City’s coronavirus death toll soared past 10,000 after officials added more than 3,700 people who had never tested positive for the virus but were presumed to have died of it. https://t.co/NXpgwwltWi
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 14, 2020
The report stated that Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio decided over the weekend to change the way the city is counting deaths.
“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.”
The Times report added that health officials have had difficulty counting the exact number of deaths, because of the demographics who have been hit the hardest by the virus.
“Public health officials say that counting the dead from a pandemic disease like Covid-19 presents difficulties because many of those who die are older or suffering from other serious health conditions,” they wrote. “And the full effects of the outbreak on mortality in New York City, and around the country, could take many more months to study and understand.”
Official death tolls from certain diseases can often take years to accumulate. The CDC writes of the flu that they use “death certificate data to estimate how likely deaths are to occur outside the hospital,” although it’s not clear if this is how New York City is estimating its death tolls.
New York City is not the only city in the U.S. to include presumptive coronavirus deaths in their total. Several health departments in Ohio announced last week that they were going to begin including people who they “suspected” of having the virus. (RELATED: FLASHBACK: Jan. 21: Fauci Says Coronavirus ‘Not A Major Threat’ To U.S.)
Top White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci dismissed concerns last week over inflated coronavirus death counts as a “conspiracy theory.”