Until now, only deaths where a person had tested positive for the virus were officially counted among those killed by COVID19 in New York.
The death toll from the novel coronavirus surpassed 10,000 in New York City after health authorities included more than 3,700 people who were presumed to have died due to COVID-19 but never tested positive.
The New York City Health Department changed the way in which it counted the number of people who died from the virus. It will now include those who did not have a confirmed COVID-19 test but will be presumed to have died from the virus.
This change dramatically increased the death toll in the city from the virus.
Prior to the adjustment, the death toll was 6,589 and it now stands at 10,367. New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the US and has seen the highest number of cases and fatalities so far.
Of the 601,472 confirmed coronavirus cases in the US, 199,756 are in New York State, according to estimates by the Johns Hopkins University.
A report in The New York Times said the new fatality figures, released by New York city’s Health Department appeared to increase the overall United States death count by 17 per cent to more than 26,000.
The report said that the coronavirus outbreak is likely to have led indirectly to a spike in deaths of New Yorkers who may never have been infected.
Between March 11 and April 13, 3,000 more people died in New York City than would have been expected during the same time period in an ordinary year, commissioner of the city Health Department Oxiris Barbot said in an interview to NYT.
It added that while these excess deaths were not explicitly linked to the virus, they might not have happened had the outbreak not occurred, in part because it overwhelmed the normal health care system.
“This is yet another part of the impact of COVID,” she said, adding that more study was needed.
“What New Yorkers are interested in, and what the country is interested in, is that we have an accurate and complete count,” Barbot said. “It’s part of the healing process that we’re going to have to go through.”
Until now, only deaths where a person had tested positive for the virus were officially counted among those killed by COVID19 in New York. The report added that for weeks, the Health Department had also been recording additional deaths tied to the virus. Those were cases involving people who were presumed to have been infected because of their symptoms and medical history.
The report noted that the number of people presumed to have died from the virus were not included in the counts given publicly by Mayor Bill de Blasio because no tests had confirmed that the victims had the disease, Covid-19.
But de Blasio decided to release the presumptive cases, the report said, adding that most of the added deaths took place in hospitals, others occurred in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities and in residences.
“In the heat of battle, our primary focus has been on saving lives,” said Freddi Goldstein, the mayor’s press secretary. “As soon as the issue was raised, the mayor immediately moved to release the data.”
The NYT report said New York City has been reporting the probable cases to the federal National Center for Health Statistics for more than a week. But Barbot said that the city would continue reporting only confirmed cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for its coronavirus tracker, because the agency requested those statistics.