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UPDATE: US data on Coronavirus deaths exaggerating the number of deaths?: US Hospitals Paid More for labeling cause of death as Coronavirus, Doctors falsely labeling deaths

11 May , 2020   Video

UPDATE: Here is a new piece that we have that summarizes the information in this post (click here).

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of Illinois Department of Public Health, in the above video from April 18, 2020, explains how extremely broadly deaths count as a Coronavirus death.

“I just want to be clear in terms of the definition of ‘people dying of COVID.’ The case definition is very simplistic. It means, at the time of death, it was a COVID positive diagnosis. That means, that if you were in hospice and had already been given a few weeks to live, and then you also were found to have COVID, that would be counted as a COVID death. It means, technically even if you died of clear alternative cause, but you had COVID at the same time, it’s still listed as a COVID death. Everyone who is listed as a COVID death, doesn’t mean that was the cause of the death, but they had COVID at the time of death.”

The problem of these broad definitions isn’t just limited to Illinois. There are lots of extreme examples of cases that clearly shouldn’t be counted as Coronavirus deaths.

In Macomb County, Chief Medical Examiner Daniel Spitz had a recent case in which an individual died by suicide.

Because they had a family member in the hospital suffering from COVID-19, Spitz had a postmortem test done and found that the individual who died at home was positive for COVID-19. The virus wasn’t their cause of death, but the individual is counted as a COVID-19 death.

Similar cases of “death with coronavirus” have likely been included in the state’s count. In Oakland County, every individual who has died while infected with COVID-19 has counted as a coronavirus death, according to Dr. Ljubisa J. Gragovic, the county’s chief medical examiner.

“We are testing all the people who are deceased who are brought in, whether they sustained injuries or were in a hospital setting or their place of work or home, whether they’re victims of violence or unexpected sudden death, we’re testing them,” Dragovic said.

Justin P. Hicks, “Medical experts say Michigan’s coronavirus death count isn’t accurate,” MLive, April 17, 2020

For Florida:

Questions raised after fatal motorcycle crash listed as COVID-19 death

“We were arguing, discussing, or trying to argue with the state. Not because of the numbers — it’s 100…it doesn’t make any difference if it’s 99 — but the fact that the individual didn’t die from COVID-19…died in the crash. But you could actually argue that it could have been the COVID-19 that caused him to crash. I don’t know the conclusion of that one.”

Danielle Lama, “FOX 35 INVESTIGATES: Questions raised after fatal motorcycle crash listed as COVID-19 death,” Fox Channel 35 (Orlando, Florida), July 16, 2020.

Similarly for Colorado:

Nearly a quarter of the people reported as coronavirus deaths in state statistics don’t have the virus listed on their death certificates — at least not yet — the state Health Department said Friday, adding more uncertainty to how many people the virus has killed in Colorado.

The number of coronavirus deaths in state figures topped 1,000 earlier this week, and the number stood at 1,150 deaths as of Friday afternoon. But officials with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment revealed during a call with reporters that that number does not represent the number of people who have died due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Instead, the death figure CDPHE has been providing for weeks is more accurately described as the number of people with COVID-19 who have died — for any reason. The number of people who have died and have COVID-19 listed on their death certificate is 24% lower: 878, according to CDPHE’s latest figures.

John Ingold and Jesse Paul, “Nearly a quarter of the people Colorado said died from coronavirus don’t have COVID-19 on their death certificate,” Colorado Sun, May 15, 2020.

This broad definition is not due to a few rogue public health people. It is what they are expected to do. As Director Deborah Birx recently noted:

“There are other countries that if you had a preexisting condition and let’s say the virus caused you to go to the ICU and then have a heart or kidney problem some countries are recording [this] as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death. . . . [In the US] if someone dies with COVID-19 we are counting that as a COVID-19 death.”

But even beyond this broad definition, Birx and others believe that the CDC is over counting cases.

Birx and others were frustrated with the CDC’s antiquated system for tracking virus data, which they worried was inflating some statistics — such as mortality rate and case count — by as much as 25 percent, according to four people present for the discussion or later briefed on it. . . . “There is nothing from the CDC that I can trust,” Birx said . . .

Josh Dawsey, Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker and Yasmeen Abutaleb, “As deaths mount, Trump tries to convince Americans it’s safe to inch back to normal,” Washington Post, May 9, 2020.

There are additional reasons to believe that the number of Coronavirus cases are being over counted. Are doctors being pressured to list deaths as due to the Coronavirus? This video featuring Doctor Dan Erickson was a news segment that was filmed by a news station in California and was played again on Fox News (April 28, 2020). All the data on death rates from the Coronavirus assume that doctors are accurately recording Coronavirus deaths. If they are in fact recording deaths as Coronavirus deaths as being from the Coronavirus when they are not, the true death rate is less than what is being reported. More detailed info available on the government exaggerating the number of deaths from the Coronavirus is available here.

The audio below has quotes from Coronavirus Response Director Deborah Birx and a funeral director at Colonial Funeral Home in Queens, New York City, New York. The funeral director is explaining that they are putting COVID-19 on “everything.”

Comments from funeral director: “To be honest with you, all the death certificates they are writing COVID on all the death certificates whether they had a positive or that they didn’t. So I think, this is my personal opinion, I think like the mayor of our city, they are looking for federal funding, and the more they put COVID on a death certificate, the more they can ask for federal funds. So I think that it is political. So I am going to turn around and say not everybody who has COVID on their death certificate died of COVID. Can I prove that? No, but that is my suspicion. … They are putting it on everybody’s death certificate to make life easier for them. … They are just pushing things out because they are overwhelmed, and it is just easier to write COVID on everything. … I couldn’t give you a number, but quite a lot.”

Larry Elder national radio show, May 5, 2020, beginning of second hour.

Is it really conceivable that the US accounts for 49,900 of the worldwide 200,000 Coronavirus deaths? Or might it be because of how the US counts those deaths? We have noted before that when one compares the per capita rate of Coronavirus deaths and adjusts for how long the country has had infections, the US compares very favorably relative to other Western European countries. Still, the discussion below shows that this is despite the US rate being artificially high because of how the US measures these deaths.

Is it really conceivable that the US accounts for 49,900 of the worldwide 200,000 Coronavirus deaths? Or might it be because of how the US counts those deaths? We have noted before that when one compares the per capita rate of Coronavirus deaths and adjusts for how long the country has had infections, the US compares very favorably relative to other Western European countries. Still, the discussion below shows that this is despite the US rate being artificially high because of how the US measures these deaths.

As Coronavirus Response Director Deborah Birx recently noted: “There are other countries that if you had a preexisting condition and let’s say the virus caused you to go to the ICU and then have a heart or kidney problem some countries are recording [this] as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death. . . . [In the US] if someone dies with COVID-19 we are counting that as a COVID-19 death.”

Indeed, that is the guidance given by the Centers for Disease Control.

In cases where a definite diagnosis of COVID–19 cannot be made, but it is suspected or likely (e.g., the circumstances are compelling within a reasonable degree of certainty), it is acceptable to report COVID–19 on a death certificate as “probable” or “presumed.” In these instances, certifiers should use their best clinical judgement in determining if a COVID–19 infection was likely.

CDC, Guidance for Certifying Deaths Due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19), April 2020

And there might be a lot of these cases where there is ambiguity in classifying cases. NYC recently dramatically increased the number of deaths attributed to the virus by including people who had never been tested. From the New York Times:

N.Y.C. Death Toll Soars Past 10,000 in Revised Virus Count. The city has added more than 3,700 additional people who were presumed to have died of the coronavirus but had never tested positive. . . .

J. David Goodman and William K. Rashbaum, “N.Y.C. Death Toll Soars Past 10,000 in Revised Virus Count,” April 21, 2020

But there might be other incentives that encourage cases to be classified as Coronavirus cases when there is this ambiguity.

The CARES Act created a 20% premium, or add-on, for COVID-19 Medicare patients.

There have been no public reports that hospitals are exaggerating COVID-19 numbers to receive higher Medicare payments.

Fact Check, USA Today, April 24, 2020

Dr. Scott Jensen, a senator and physician in Minnesota, made this point on April 15th on his Facebook page:

“How can anyone not believe that increasing the number of COVID-19 deaths may create an avenue for states to receive a larger portion of federal dollars. Already some states are complaining that they are not getting enough of the CARES Act dollars because they are having significantly more proportional COVID-19 deaths.”

Dr. Scott Jensen, Facebook post, April 15th, 2020

And on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle he noted:

“Right now Medicare is determining that if you have a COVID-19 admission to the hospital you get $13,000. If that COVID-19 patient goes on a ventilator you get $39,000, three times as much. Nobody can tell me after 35 years in the world of medicine that sometimes those kinds of things impact on what we do.”

There are other problems that are being revealed about the Coronavirus data. One mistake which is greatly exaggerating the number of people with the disease is that the CDC is “combining the results from viral and antibody COVID-19 tests when reporting the country’s testing totals.”

But while Fact checkers concede that more money is paid for COVID-19 Medicare patients, they refuse to believe that this might have any impact on whether cases are classified as Coronavirus cases. Still most economists would believe that if you pay people more for classifying these ambiguous cases as involving one type of disease than another, you will get more of the one that pays more.

All this makes it very hard to compare death rates. As of early morning of April 26th, according to Johns Hopkins University, there were 2,897,883 confirmed cases around the world and 202,880 deaths. By contrast, the United States had 900,600 confirmed cases and 49,900 deaths. To put it differently, the US had 31% of the cases and 25% of the deaths.

On April 23rd, 2020: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Pennsylvania had included over two hundred Coronavirus deaths where the virus had not been confirmed.

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8 Responses

  1. George Hurlburt says:

    All questionable data should be investigated as criminal activity until it can be shown it’s not.
    There simply is too much at stake to just blow it off and let the criminals walk off with their spoils.

  2. Doug Huffman says:

    Unfortunately, George H., lying is not a crime. The only recourse that we citizens have is at the ballot box. Many of our fellows prefer nice lies of rainbows and unicorn to the complexities of reality.

    Benoit Mandelbrot may have said that “reality is fractally complex,” beware the Black Swan hiding camouflaged in the complexity.

    Thank you again, Dr. Lott, for years of acute truth telling.

  3. Nancy says:

    And who are the criminals? The Dimms who are pushing this from CDC? Or the docs and hospitals who get more money? It’s all from the commies, Dimms, WHO, CDC whomare trying to get Trump and destroy our nation.

  4. Douglas Marsh says:

    I’m getting consistent reports that covid-19 is being added to most inpatient charts. I recommend that the hospitals and states be audited to determine the extent of this fraud.

  5. Richard Robertson says:

    What this article is lacking is the percent of deaths that are directly connect to COVID-19 vs those that there was COVID-19 detected in the deceased at the time of death. This will give us a yardstick to measure the amount of exaggeration on the Corona death rate and how significant this is. If the false positives are less than 33% I’m not going to worry about them or refer to this as “exaggerated reporting”. CPRC is right is reporting this issue but I’d be concerned if they may be guilty of exaggeration themselves. This site’s disdain of government sources is well earned but caution should not be abandoned for cynicism.

  6. Jim Jaskie says:

    A good way to measure the reality of the threat from Covid-19 is to look at the excess deaths, that is above the number to be expected at this time of year.
    On average, about 300 people per day die in New York state. So when you hear that 2000 died on a given date, you know something dangerous is going on. Same thing in the US. Normally about 8000 people die per day. A few weeks ago about 12,000 deaths/day. There is real danger out there.

    • johnrlott says:

      Jim, read the entire article. It deals directly with that data, and that is NOT the way to look at it.

  7. Kilauea says:

    Getting a payout may be one of the reasons Andrew Cuomo sent all those Covid positive patients back into the Assisted Living Facilities to infect the elderly population. I wouldn’t put anything past a ruthless self-absorbed egomaniac like Cuomo.

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