COVID-19 Not a Conspiracy Against Trump
Just how many Americans have died as a result of COVID-19? Unfortunately, it depends on whom you ask. As the death toll continues to increase in the United States, a false narrative has started to emerge that states many or even most of the deaths associated with COVID-19 were exaggerated.
This is largely due to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which states that “For six percent of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned.”
This six percent stat has become a rallying cry for far-right defenders of President Donald Trump. This is especially true with conservatives on social media. The point of their posts is to cast doubt on the public health, medical and scientific communities, claiming they are purposefully overstating the impact of the coronavirus in the U.S., probably to hurt Trump.
The truth is that in 94 percent of all the deaths, people did have at least one additional factor contributing to their deaths. Stated another way, the majority of Americans who died from COVID-19 had another medical condition on top of the coronavirus at the time of their death. Many patients died in the hospital, often on mechanical ventilation and with multiple organ failure due to the invasive nature of the virus. And deaths were certainly not limited to the elderly, another falsehood that has been touted as a reason to reopen businesses and schools without caution.
Children and young adults are also dying from COVID-19, with serious infections increasingly affecting young adults.This is not at all surprising given what is known about the virus, nor does it mean that there is over counting of fatalities. Perpetuating the false notion that the virus is not serious or is only lethal to the elderly is part of why there has been at least one million deaths globally and still seeing approximately 1,000 deaths a day in the U.S.
Today, advances in medical technology allow people to live decades with multiple, once-deadly diseases. This means increasing numbers of Americans are able to live long lives with pre-existing conditions. The public health community is very purposeful about how and why someone died right now. A medical professional is required to assess immediate and underlying causes of death on a death certificate.
What is clear is that the current death toll of over 210,000 people in the United States is indeed real and will likely increase to somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 deaths by the end of the year. Furthermore, analyses by the CDC and the National Center for Health Statistics have shown that total death numbers have likely exceeded even the official death counts by 20-30 percent. The total death number should take into account deaths outside of hospitals and health care facilities, often in homes or other institutions for which there might not be a medical professional assessing the cause of death. In other words, we are seeing more deaths than normal, and the main reason has got to be the virus.
But while it’s vital that public health officials know exactly who is dying, it’s also important that the public understand the reality of this pandemic. Misinformation can have serious consequences. Unfortunately, a growing number of people question the necessity of wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, and restricting businesses and schools. Social media posts claiming “only 9,000” Americans have really died from COVID-19 only fuel this vocal minority, especially when promoted by the president himself.
As the country braces for a winter season that could bring more fatalities, it is important to be clear in communication: COVID-19 is quickly becoming a top cause of death across the world.
Global deaths from COVID-19 now exceed the combined total numbers of people who have died from the flu, malaria, cholera and measles. Face coverings, physical distancing and hand-washing could save your life or the life of someone around you. Spreading dubious scientific claims will do the opposite.