Health Care

NYC saw 24,000 ‘excess deaths’ at peak of coronavirus outbreak

New York City saw 24,000 more deaths than were expected between March and early May, due to the coronavirus and its effects on the health care system, according to a report issued Monday by the city’s health department. 

Nearly 19,000 of those deaths were individuals with confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases, according to the report, which relied on data from lab tests and death certificates. 

The remaining 5,293 deaths may be directly or indirectly attributable to the pandemic, according to the report from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 

“Counting only confirmed or probable COVID-19-associated deaths, however, likely underestimates the number of deaths attributable to the pandemic,” the report reads. 

The report notes that the risk of dying from COVID-19 is higher in individuals who have underlying chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Deaths in people with these conditions might not be recognized by health care providers as dying of COVID-19, the report states. 

Social distancing requirements, the demand on hospitals and health care providers, and fear of COVID-19 might have discouraged people from obtaining lifesaving care, the authors of the report wrote. 

Counting confirmed and probable deaths would also miss people who had COVID-19 but did not get tested, who tested falsely negative or became infected after testing negative, or who died at home.

“Tracking excess mortality is important to understanding the contribution to the death rate from both COVID-19 disease and the lack of availability of care for non-COVID conditions,” the authors wrote. 

Tags Coronavirus excess deaths Health care system New York overwhelmed health care system

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