U.S. coronavirus deaths may be far higher than initially reported

The lack of testing early on in the pandemic makes it difficult to pinpoint accurately how many deaths were coronavirus related

A mask is seen on the sidewalk as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 27, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

According to a report in the Washington Post, the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic may have been more deadly than previously thought.

In an analysis of the research conducted for the newspaper, led by the Yale School of Public Health, it was determined that the United States has now recorded 15,400 more deaths from the beginning of the national crisis than reported. This accounting is staggering as it presents numbers nearly two times greater than previously released to the public by officials.

READ MORE: Georgia reports 100 coronavirus deaths in last 48 hours

While the deaths are not all directly attributed to the coronavirus, the study does demonstrate that there was an increase in the country’s death rate which includes other variables like suicides, homicides, and motor vehicle accidents.

The analysis calculates excess deaths by using a model that estimates how many people probably would have died absent the pandemic and then subtracting that number from the overall deaths reported by the National Center for Health Statistics.


SEATTLE, WA – FEBRUARY 29: Healthcare workers transport a patient on a stretcher into an ambulance at Life Care Center of Kirkland. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

The new data suggest that there is a possibility that the death toll from the pandemic may have been significantly impacted the report.

Daniel Weinberger, a Yale professor of epidemiology, says “It’s really important to get the right numbers to inform policymakers so they can understand how the epidemic is evolving and how severe it is in different places.”

President Donald J. Trump initially played down the threat of the virus and it is possible that the inaction of the administration may have allowed COVID-19 to spread undetected for weeks.

READ MORE: NYC creates burial plans for COVID-19 deaths, if morgues are too crowded

The report also demonstrates that a lack of testing early in the pandemic means that there were many deaths that could not be determined as coronavirus related. Instead, some victims of the virus may have been labeled as “probable” cases. Most states do not report probable cases in their official tallies of deaths due to the respiratory disease.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged at a news conference last week that his state’s tally is “not an accurate total number of deaths, in my opinion.”

“That number is going to go up,” he said. “Those deaths are only hospitalization or nursing home deaths.”

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s new podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!