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U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Might Be Far Higher Than Currently Estimated: NYT

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As the United States nears the 10,000 mark of coronavirus-related deaths, The New York Times reported Monday morning that medical experts predict the death toll might be significantly higher than currently estimated.

“Across the United States, even as coronavirus deaths are being recorded in terrifying numbers — many hundreds each day — the true death toll is likely much higher,” the Times reported.

Health experts who spoke with the publication shared that many factors, such as limited resources and incongruent reporting, have contributed to what they believe to be yielding an underestimated coronavirus death tally in the United States.

“More than 9,400 people with the coronavirus have been reported to have died in this country as of this weekend, but hospital officials, doctors, public health experts, and medical examiners say that official counts have failed to capture the true number of Americans dying in this pandemic. The undercount is a result of inconsistent protocols, limited resources and a patchwork of decision making from one state or county to the next.”

“In many rural areas, coroners say they don’t have the tests they need to detect the disease. Doctors now believe that some deaths in February and early March, before the coronavirus reached epidemic levels in the United States, were likely misidentified as influenza or only described as pneumonia.”

“With no uniform system for reporting coronavirus-related deaths in the United States, and a continued shortage of tests, some states and counties have improvised, obfuscated and, at times, backtracked in counting the dead.”

Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, told the Times, “We definitely think there are deaths that we have not accounted for.”

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