How Are Covid-19 Deaths Being Counted?
The CDC’s Provisional Death Count for the Coronavirus is considered to be a reliable source for accurate death rates from the Coronavirus, but a discrepancy in the numbers from CDC reports fuels claims that the Coronavirus Pandemic is being inflated out of proportion. The discrepancy lies between the CDC’s “Cases in the US” post updated May 11, which lists 79,756 deaths for the reporting period, and their “Provisional Death Count for the Coronavirus”, which lists 51,495 deaths as of May 12.
Closer examination shows that all 55 precincts including all 50 states and the territories are represented in the “Cases in the US” post, which was not the case in the “Provisional Death Count for the Coronavirus”. Therefore, the “Cases in the US” count represents a more accurate death toll than the provisional report.
These numbers come from death certificates with U.07.01 codes, which do not require lab confirmation of COVID-19 as the cause of death but only that the individual probably had COVID-19, to be counted in Provisional Death Count for Coronavirus. The CDC began to collect death certificates from precincts and territories in the U.S. starting in early February prior to the release of COVID-19 testing when the death certificates could not be lab-verified. Collecting death certificates from possible COVID-19 cases was important during the initial stages of the pandemic in order to track the spread of the disease.
Processing death certificates takes approximately 10 days, so even though reports are updated every day, the numbers reported are delayed. The statistics are bound to change as more death certificates are processed. The United States is still in the midst of the testing and data gathering stage. A more complete and accurate picture of the death toll will be available over time. Given the delay in processing death certificates, it is likely that the total death toll will continue to increase, but this does not equate to an increase in the number of COVID-19 deaths.