Virus deaths may be undercounted as more people die at home.
The official death figures, awful as they are, may not actually reflect the virus’s true toll Around the country, according to experts and officials, virus-related deaths are being undercounted because of inconsistent protocols and limited resources.
In New York City, the leader of the City Council’s health committee, Mark Levine, wrote on Twitter that people were dying at home at about 10 times the normal rate, presumably in large part because of the virus, but that many deaths were not being counted as virus deaths.
According to the news site Gothamist, the city medical examiner’s office has not been testing dead bodies for the virus and has instead referred what it considers “probable” virus deaths to the city’s health department.
But the health department counts only confirmed virus cases in its official death tally, Gothamist reported, suggesting that many virus deaths were being missed.
Asked on Tuesday about an increase in people dying at home, Mr. de Blasio said, “I’m assuming the vast majority of those deaths are coronavirus related.”
He added: “It’s understandable in a crisis that being able to make the confirmation is harder to do, with all the resources stretched so thin.” City officials, he said, were focusing their resources on “saving the next life.”
Still, he said, “We do want to know the truth about what happened in every death at home.”