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The New COVID-19 Death Snapshot

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New death numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that the percentage of all U.S. deaths caused by COVID-19 is continuing to fall.

The CDC’s latest weekly COVID-19 tracking report — which is based on state figures for deaths recorded by May 9 — show that confirmed cases of COVID-19 were responsible for 9% of the 26,479 deaths reported for the latest week, down from 14% in the week ending May 2.

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Getting tested for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, is notoriously difficult.

The CDC tries to get around that problem by tracking figures for potential COVID-19 look-alike illnesses — influenza, pneumonia and “influenza-like” illnesses. It also tracks the number of deaths from all causes.

Many states send death data to the CDC a few weeks later than others. For the week ending April 25, for example, the total number of deaths recorded for the week in the new COVID-19 report is about 20% higher than the number for the week for April 25 given in last week’s report.

Another factor that could, possibly, be throwing off the numbers is political pressure. Critics of efforts to ease COVID-19-related quarantine rules in states such as Florida and Texas have accused government officials of hiding or distorting outbreak-related statistics.

The ratio of COVID-19, flu, pneumonia and flu-like deaths to total deaths might be an indicator that compensates for the data reporting lag and for the COVID-19 testing problems.

COVID-19 and COVID-19 look-alike conditions accounted for 14% of U.S. deaths in the week ending May 9, according to the new CDC death table. That’s down from 19% in the week ending May 2.

New York City reports its own death numbers to the CDC, as if it were a state. The city is known for having a severe COVID-19 outbreak and relatively easy access to COVID-19 testing.

In New York City, the CDC figures show that confirmed COVID-19 cases have accounted for more than 90% of the deaths caused by COVID-19 and COVID-19  look-alike conditions since the week ending April 11. In other words: the COVID-19 death numbers there look similar to the death numbers for all conditions that look like COVID-19.

In New York City, the percentage of total deaths caused by COVID-19 fell to 39% in the week ending May 9, from 50% in the week ending May 2.

The percentage of total deaths caused by COVID-19 and COVID-19 look-alikes fell to 43%, fro 54%.

For a chart showing how the percentage of all deaths caused by COVID-19, and the percentage of all deaths caused by conditions that seem as if they could be COVID-19, have changed over time, look above.

For weekly death numbers, see the chart below.

We’lll be publishing a more complete account of the data, including state-by-state numbers, Monday.

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DAta for the week ending COVID-19 Deaths Pneumonia, Influenza and COVID-19 Deaths Total Deaths COVID-19 Deaths As a Percentage of Total Deaths Pneumonia, Influenza and COVID-19 Deaths As a Percentage of Total Deaths
Feb. 1 0 4,177 57,535 0% 7%
Feb. 8 1 4,210 58,140 0% 7%
Feb. 15 0 4,269 57,480 0% 7%
Feb. 22 2 4,157 57,510 0% 7%
Feb. 29 7 4,341 57,784 0% 8%
March 7 32 4,419 57,373 0% 8%
March 14 51 4,403 55,856 0% 8%
March 21 517 5,083 55,965 1% 9%
March 28 2,897 7,758 59,074 5% 13%
April 4 8,893 14,066 66,978 13% 21%
April 11 14,287 19,018 72,459 20% 26%
April 18 14,077 17,954 68,029 21% 26%
April 25 10,760 14,045 60,216 18% 23%
May 2 6,464 8,889 47,070 14% 19%
May 9 2,311 3,581 26,479 9% 14%

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— Read 7 Things the Senate Is Hearing About Covid-19, for Agentson ThinkAdvisor.

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