Over 90% of COVID-19 deaths in US had contributing factors: CDC report

These issues had been called “underlying,” which is not accurate. They are “contributing” conditions, the report says, that the virus may bring on.

Students return to school at Seminole Heights Elementary School after the Florida Department of Education mandated that all schools must have in-class learning. (Photo by Octavio Jones/Getty Images)


According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 94% of Americans who died from COVID-19 had contributing causes. 

“For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death,” the report reads. 

The CDC listed the top contributing medical causes, which included “influenza and pneumonia, respiratory failure, hypertensive disease, diabetes, cardiac arrest, heart failure, renal failure, as well as intentional and unintentional injury, poisoning and other adverse events.” 

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The report has been misinterpreted as these conditions being “underlying,” which is not accurate. They are “contributing” conditions, many of which can be brought about by the virus. 

A Twitter user tweeted out the incorrect data that “the CDC quietly updated the COVID number to admit that only 6% of the 153,504 deaths recorded actually died from COVID. That’s 9,210 deaths.” 

The tweet is so incorrect that it was removed by Twitter for violating misinformation policies. Unfortunately, it had already been retweeted by President Donald Trump

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Forbes Senior Contributor Bruce Y. Lee wrote, “for example, say a person gets a Covid-19 coronavirus infection, which eventually progresses to pneumonia, ARDS, respiratory distress and death. Then there’s a decent chance doctors will indicate more than one of these conditions as a cause of death.” 

The CDC report was taken from death certificates filled out by attending physicians at the time of patients’ passing. 

“This is a reminder that the virus can trigger a series of events that can ultimately take a person’s life,” Lee wrote, “In fact, with COVID-19 leading to all sorts of problems in the body, the probability is high (say over 90%) that something else will then be recorded as a cause of death in addition to Covid-19. It would actually be unusual to simply put Covid-19 as a cause of death without specifying what led to the patient’s demise.” 

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Max Kennerly, an attorney, tried to clarify the data, saying on Twitter, “the chart merely lists what medical examiners chose to put on death certificates.” 

Inaccurate reports continue to circulate calling the comorbidities “underlying factors.” One news site wrote, “Editor’s note: We’ve updated the language of this article to read ‘contributing conditions’ when noting COVID-19 death percentages. In a previous version, those contributing conditions were labeled ‘underlying health conditions.'”

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