The weekend's big talking point for people more concerned with propping up the president's campaign than grappling with reality was that a new CDC report found 94 percent of people who have been recorded as dying from COVID-19 have also had other causes of death listed. The thinking from some exceptionally large brains in the conservative media was that this meant only six percent of the recorded COVID deaths are actually deaths due to COVID, so that a big chunk of the 183,000 recorded deaths in the U.S. somehow shouldn't count. In a swiftly deleted tweet, whoever now runs Herman Cain's Twitter account shared a link to this effect—from "westernjournal.com," no less—and declared that "it looks like the virus is not as deadly as the mainstream media first made it out to be." Herman Cain died of COVID-19 a month ago.
If you're interested in reality, this 94 percent statistic is not that much of a surprise. It does not mean, as some news reports had it, that all 94 percent had underlying conditions—chronic diseases like diabetes. 43 percent of these cases had pneumonia listed among the causes of death, which would likely have been a complication tied to COVID. 47 also had "acute respiratory failure" listed, which also would likely have been connected to the virus. If you don't believe me—a card-carrying member of Lamestream Fake News Media—then just listen to Dr. Nicole Saphier, Fox News medical contributor and author of "Make America Healthy Again."
Let’s discuss the latest report that 94% of COVID-19 patients who died had underlying conditions | https://t.co/tIBupSpr66— Nicole Saphier, MD (@NBSaphierMD) August 31, 2020
As Saphier pointed out, 42 percent of people who die from breast cancer have organ failure as a proximate cause of death. 24 have respiratory failure listed. "But those are directly caused by the cancer, or by the treatments themselves," the good doctor said. "They wouldn't have died from those causes had they not had the cancer. And that's the same with a lot of these listed deaths. They wouldn't have died from that acute respiratory failure, or sepsis, or some of the other causes, if they didn't have COVID. COVID, that virus, is what is actually causing those diseases, causing them to die."
It wouldn't even make a difference if all 94 percent had underlying conditions, though. Take someone with diabetes who dies after contracting COVID-19. If they had not contracted COVID-19—if they just had diabetes—would they be dead right now? No? Then they died because they got COVID-19.
This hasn't yet spread as widely yet as some other right-wing tropes, but these days, you have to take it all seriously—and nip it in the bud early. It's understandable that the president's partisans would prefer not to confront his actual record on the pandemic, much like he'd rather dwell on—and encourage—the unrest in the nation's streets. (His advisers have openly said they believe this benefits him politically. There is no evidence as yet that this is true.) His actual record is overseeing 21.7 percent of the world's COVID-19 deaths spread across just 4.2 percent of its population. This, in the richest and most powerful nation in the history of the world—one which we're told, by its various defenders, has such an unrivaled healthcare system.
And even the 183,000 number may be understating things. On August 13, the New York Times reported that 200,000 more Americans had died since March than usually do in a normal year. This metric, known as "excess deaths," suggests that some deaths tied to the pandemic—perhaps many thousands—are not being recorded as such. The number of COVID deaths are not being overstated in this country. It's very likely an undercount.
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