Over the last week, there has been a significant amount of discussion throughout the nation regarding an updated provisional COVID-19 death count released by CDC.
The reporting on this updated death count widely asserted that 94% of COVID-19 fatalities (from Feb. 1 through Aug. 22) included co-morbidities. This was then incorrectly interpreted throughout the social media sphere. And statements began circulating that only 6% of the 184,000 coronavirus-related deaths were truly “coronavirus deaths”.
This is far from the truth and utilizes a lack of context when presenting information to potentially push a narrative. I have decided to take the time to outline a few reasons as to why this interpretation is incorrect, why you should continue to take the virus seriously, and what steps you can take to become informed as new data comes out to the public.
The major aspect of the report that has been circulated, is the small factoid where only 6% of COVID-19 deaths reported in the US had no other comorbidities. Again, this has been used to push the idea that only 6% of the total deaths (184,000 Americans and still growing) from the virus are “true COVID-19 deaths”.
Actually, the correct interpretation is that only 6% of COVID-19 deaths were killed by the virus alone. But let’s be clear, 100% of these people would still be alive if it were not for COVID-19.
As we all know, not every person has a clean bill of health. The incidence of chronic disease (and thus co-morbidity) is very high in our nation. A comorbidity is literally defined by Oxford dictionary as “the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions in a patient.” This means that if a person is obese, hypertensive, or diabetic that they have a comorbidity. When multiple conditions and diseases stack upon one another, and if introduced to another condition or disease, it can cause both diseases to worsen.
The body has a great way of protecting itself, but it is not without its limits. Referencing the original report (e.g. 94% of COVID-19 deaths having no comorbidities), this simply means that 6% of those infected were considered “healthy” or “fit” individuals, with no other comorbidities. This 6% represents people that succumbed to the virus alone.
CDC’s weekly coronavirus update more accurately conveys that COVID-19 should continue to be treated seriously and recognized as a dangerous virus. It shows that with high levels of comorbidity, the likelihood of dying from coronavirus increases greatly.
With CDC also reporting that 6 out of 10 Americans having at least one chronic disease, it should be taken as a warning that 6 out of 10 Americans are also at increased risk from dying from COVID-19.
It is incredibly important that we stay well-informed since we never know when we may personally become affected. For this reason, it is important that we treat public health data with the respect it deserves.
Ask yourself, “What is the source of this new information? Is it coming from someone who is studied in the field of public health? Could they possibly be trying to push a certain idea into the public eye?
Besides asking those questions, take a moment to look up the CDC report yourself and make your own data-based decision.