Coronavirus-related deaths in New York City have surged past 10,000 now that officials have revised the tally to include people presumed to have died from the virus, rather than just those with lab-confirmed test results.
The reporting adjustment tacked an additional 3,778 deaths to New York City's official tally, up from 6,589, according to data released by the city.
“Behind every death is a friend, a family member, a loved one. We are focused on ensuring that every New Yorker who died because of COVID-19 gets counted,” New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said in a statement. “While these data reflect the tragic impact that the virus has had on our city, they will also help us to determine the scale and scope of the epidemic and guide us in our decisions.”
The decision to include probable deaths, which the city has defined as New Yorkers without a known positive test but who have “COVID-19” or equivalent listed on their death certificates, followed media reports asserting the city could be substantially undercounting deaths.
Discrepancies in testing and reporting protocols meant probable COVID-19-related deaths were not being included in official tallies and those who died of unconfirmed causes at home were not being tested for coronavirus after death, The New York Times reported. A report from Gothamist and WNYC noted the number of New Yorkers dying at home since the pandemic hit has surged almost tenfold, meaning the city could be underreporting by a whopping 70 percent. About 25 people die at home per day on average in New York City, but in the weeks since the outbreak of the virus, at-home death rates have settled around 200.
According to the new data released by the City, close to 8,200 New Yorkers passed away in the past month from causes not known to be related to COVID-19. The city acknowledged that some of those deaths could be reclassified as more information becomes available.