The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shifted the way deaths from COVID-19 are counted in the United States to include both “confirmed” and “probable” cases.
“A confirmed case or death is defined by meeting confirmatory laboratory evidence for COVID-19,” a statement posted on the CDC’s website reads about confirmed cases.
For probable cases, other evidence for the virus is considered, even if the individual who died had no testing to confirm COVID-19.
“A probable case or death is defined by meeting clinical criteria AND epidemiologic evidence with no confirmatory laboratory testing performed for COVID-19,” the CDC website reads.
The other two criteria for a “probable” COVID-19 death are, “meeting presumptive laboratory evidence AND either clinical criteria OR epidemiologic evidence” or “meeting vital records criteria with no confirmatory laboratory testing performed for COVID19.”
The change in counting could have big consequences for the overall number of cases considered in the United States, changing the number by the thousands.
CNN reported Wednesday that the “inclusion of such cases will add thousands to the total number of patients and deaths by including people who didn’t have a positive test but showed signs of having the virus.”
On Wednesday, CDC officials said the change reflects “a better picture of the burden of COVID-19 in the U.S.” AP News reports.
New York City also shifted the way deaths are counted this week to include “probable” cases, which added nearly 4,000 new deaths to the count.
The way deaths are counted could be an emerging political battle. Some reports suggest that an increase in people dying at home means that COVID-19 deaths are being under-counted. (RELATED: Has The Government Misled The Public With Its Coronavirus Response?)
President Donald Trump appeared skeptical of the change in reporting deaths Wednesday.
“I see this morning where New York added 3,000 deaths because they died, and they’re now saying, rather than it was a heart attack, they’re saying heart attack caused by this, so they’re adding. If you look at it, that’s it,” Trump said at the press briefing.