BY VISHWADHA CHANDER
The number of deaths in New York City from causes other than COVID-19 rose by more than 5,000 people above the seasonal norm during the first two months of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday.
The deaths could be due to several factors, the CDC said, including delays in seeking or getting life-saving care for fear of exposure to the coronavirus.
Tracking excess mortality is vital in understanding the contribution to the death rate of both COVID-19 and poor availability of care for people with non-COVID conditions, noted researchers, who reported their findings in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
The CDC used data from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which has an electronic reporting system with a near complete count of all deaths in the city.
Between March 11 and May 2, 32,107 deaths were reported to the department. Of these, 24,172 were found to be in excess of the seasonal norm. This included 13,831 (57%) laboratory-confirmed COVID-19–associated deaths and 5,048 (21%) probable COVID-19–associated deaths.
That means 5,293, or 22% of the excess deaths, were not identified as being associated with COVID-19.
These deaths could be directly or indirectly attributed to the pandemic and counting only the confirmed or probable COVID-19–associated deaths likely underestimates deaths attributable to the pandemic, the researchers said.