NEW YORK — The number of potential coronavirus-related deaths in New York City has jumped to 5,293 — up from roughly 3,000 in mid-April — according to health department data published Monday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last month, the city expanded its death toll significantly by including probable coronavirus deaths — those that were likely due to the coronavirus but had not been confirmed for a variety of reasons. However, city officials warned there were 3,000 or so additional deaths that were related to the coronavirus but did not have a strong enough link to be classified as such.
Those may include people who suffered from the coronavirus but did not have it noted on their death certificate. In other cases, the primary cause may be something else, but exacerbated by a coronavirus infection. In particular, there has been a surge in cardiac arrests — and officials are probing whether many of the heart attacks were caused by the coronavirus.
According to health department data published by the CDC, those cases are now estimated at 5,293.
“During March 11–May 2, 2020, a total of 32,107 deaths were reported to DOHMH; of these deaths, 24,172 were found to be in excess of the seasonal expected baseline,” the CDC report reads. “Included in the 24,172 deaths were 13,831 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19–associated deaths and 5,048 probable COVID-19–associated deaths, leaving 5,293 excess deaths that were not identified as either laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19–associated deaths.”
By Monday the virus had killed 19,931 people in the city — a number that includes confirmed and probable cases, but not the 5,293 potentially related cases.
“This crisis has taken a devastating toll on our city and we are still working to fully measure the scale of what we’ve lost,” New York City health department spokesperson Patrick Gallahue said in a statement. “This is a critical part of both understanding the virus as well as the healing process that New Yorkers will go through.”
President Donald Trump and his supporters argue the death tolls are overblown because some authorities are including suspected, but not confirmed, coronavirus deaths in their initial totals. Health specialists say the approach is essential to ensure that the death toll is not significantly undercounted in the moment.