CDC Reports U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Is 37,308: Here’s The Reason

OPINION | This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

The number of U.S. deaths relating to the coronavirus crossed 65,000 as of Saturday morning but the official figure shown by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reflects a mere 37,308 deaths.

The discrepancy with websites like OurWorldInData (65,068) and Worldometer (66,259), while large, is due to a “lag” in data and extra precautions the CDC is taking to ensure accuracy.

A notice at the top of the CDC page reads:

Note: Provisional death counts are based on death certificate data received and coded by the National Center for Health Statistics as of May 1, 2020. Death counts are delayed and may differ from other published sources (see Technical Notes). Counts will be updated periodically. Additional information will be added to this site as available.

The opening paragraph specifies the coronavirus death toll “can take several weeks for death records to be submitted to the National Center for Health Statistics.” This missing data could include deaths from previous weeks being updated after they are confirmed and processed.

“Therefore, the data shown on this page may be incomplete, and will likely not include all deaths that occurred during a given time period, especially for the more recent time periods,” the CDC explains, specifically saying the information is “lagged by an average of 1-2 weeks.”

In the footnotes of the report, the CDC again echoes the figures could be subject to new information lagged by the verification process.

“Data during this period are incomplete because of the lag in time between when the death occurred and when the death certificate is completed, submitted to NCHS and processed for reporting purposes. This delay can range from 1 week to 8 weeks or more, depending on the jurisdiction, age, and cause of death,” the footnote reads.

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The CDC’s 37,308 death toll figure would, therefore, be more accurately compared to the figures of the major coronavirus-tracking websites reflected on April 18 (an exact 2-week delay). On that day, OurWorldInData recorded a death toll of 37,054 and Worldometer recorded 39,331 deaths.


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