New CDC report shows 94% of COVID-19 deaths in US had contributing conditions

Coronavirus

ATLANTA, Ga. (WJW/WETM) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data last week that depicts how many Americans who have died from COVID-19 also had contributing conditions.

According to the report, only 6% of deaths have COVID-19 as the only cause mentioned, revealing that 94% of patients who died from coronavirus also had other “health conditions and contributing causes.”

Some health officials said COVID-19 still played a factor in a persons death.

“It’s not to say that COVID-19 didn’t have a contributing factor into other peoples injuries or deaths who had comorbidities,” said Dr. Justin Nistico, Arnot Health. Infection Disease Doctor. “What it really means is just to say that, those other individuals may have been sicker patients, are sicker individuals, and that essentially what is may be the cause of why they had so come so quickly to the infection.”

This new report does confirm a person is at high risk when they are living with underlying conditions.

“It confirms that having underlying health conditions does increase the risk when you are infected with the coronavirus,” said Dr. Scalzone, Chief Quality Officer at Guthrie Health. “It reminds us that social distancing and wearing a mask especially if you’re going to be near people who are more vulnerable to severe disease remains very important.”

The report reads in part:

Table 3 shows the types of health conditions and contributing causes mentioned in conjunction with deaths involving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). 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.

Table 3. Conditions contributing to deaths involving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), by age group, United States. Week ending 2/1/2020 to 8/22/2020.* (Courtesy: CDC)

The CDC listed the following as the top underlying medical conditions linked to coronavirus deaths:

  • Influenza and pneumonia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Hypertensive disease
  • Diabetes
  • Vascular and unspecified dementia
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Heart failure
  • Renal failure
  • Intentional and unintentional injury, poisoning and other adverse events
  • Other medical conditions

The CDC explains that their data uses provisional death counts to “deliver the most complete and accurate picture of lives lost to COVID-19.”

These numbers are based on death certificates, which the organization says are the most reliable source of data. Death certificates reportedly contain information that is not available anywhere else and includes comorbid conditions, race and ethnicity and place of death.

The CDC says provisional death counts may not match counts from other sources, such as numbers from county health departments, because death certificates take time to be completed, states report at different rates, it takes officials extra time to code COVID-19 deaths, and because other reporting systems use different definitions or methods for counting deaths.

The organization adds that provisional data is not yet complete, provisional counts are not final and are subject to change, and that death counts should not be compared across states.

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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