US coronavirus deaths of 34,522 just ‘the tip of the iceberg’ as untested patients die at home, CDC expert warns – The Sun
THE US coronavirus death toll of almost 35,000 is just the “tip of the iceberg”, an expert from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has warned.
Mark Hayward, an expert on mortality figures, said America’s total figures are being vastly underestimated due to a lack of testing as the total infection count nears 680,000.
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Mr Hayward, a member of the CDC advisory council, said the numbers are being skewed due to untested people dying at home.
Medics often do not test people for coronavirus after they have already died.
Staff shortages may also impact as states suffer delays in reporting the latest figures to the CDC.
He told Newsweek: “The biggest challenge in obtaining an accurate tally of Covid-19 deaths is to [be able to] implement widespread testing.”
As of Thursday evening, 3.4million people have been tested for the virus in the US – just one per cent of the total population.
Mr Hayward added: “I do not have an actual figure of under-reporting and this will vary over time as testing becomes more widespread.
“The degree of under-reporting will vary across localities in the US and over time.”
He described the current number of deaths as the “tip of the iceberg”.
It comes as President Donald Trump is looking at how best to reopen the US.
The President said 29 states could reopen – some as early as tomorrow – but said the decision is up to the govenors.
The CDC recently issued new guidelines for counting cases and deaths – which have been in effect since April 14.
Medics are now encouraged to count both confirmed and probable deaths, something Mr Hayward said was very important in the absence of testing to account for the untold number dying at home.
Robert Anderson, chief of the CDC's mortality statistics branch, explained it is vital to get an accurate account of the death toll to combat the virus.
He told ProPublica: “One of the reasons we count deaths is to allocate resources to where they need to go.
“It becomes a little more time-sensitive when you're dealing with something like a pandemic.”
The daily coronavirus death toll in the US hit 2,524 yesterday – but the President has insisted the peak has now passed.
Mr Trump said states which are in “great shape” would be able to reopen “literally tomorrow” – but said it is not up to him.
He cited the coronavirus situation in Utah, Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota, versus hard-hit regions like New York and New Jersey
He revealed a three-step plan for “Opening Up America Again” after previously appointing a team of top business people to get the economy moving again.
Anti-quarantine protesters have been seen in eight states calling for an end to the lockdown – Mr Trump expressed sympathy with them.
The President also assured any new outbreaks would be squashed immediately, but cautioned the country will have to “open safely”.
It comes as Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City’s coronavirus lockdown could stretch into July.
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