New York City has seen 24,172 more deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to last year, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday.
The report, written by the NYC Health Department’s COVID-19 response team, detailed early estimates of excess deaths—meaning more deaths than the city would usually see during this time of year. They found four times as many deaths as usually reported between March 11th and May 2nd.
The findings show the “staggering impact” of this disease, said Gretchen Van Wye, the health department’s assistant commissioner for the Bureau of Vital Statistics.
“To enumerate or count each death that occurs in New York City is way of honoring each person who dies in New York City,” Van Wye said. “It’s also important to take each piece of information that we learn and use it towards trying to develop a data-oriented plan towards improving the situation.”
NYC saw a total of 32,107 deaths during the nearly two-month time period.
Of the 24,172 excess deaths, 13,831 were confirmed to be from COVID-19 through a lab test. 5,048 deaths were presumed-positive cases.
The remaining 5,293 excess deaths “might have been directly or indirectly attributable to the pandemic,” according to the report.
“Tracking excess mortality is important to understanding the contribution to the death rate from both COVID-19 disease and the lack of availability of care for non-COVID conditions,” they wrote.
“COVID-19-associated mortality is higher in persons with underlying chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, and deaths in persons with these chronic health conditions might not be recognized as being directly attributable to COVID-19,” they wrote. “In addition, social distancing practices, the demand on hospitals and health care providers, and public fear related to COVID-19 might lead to delays in seeking or obtaining lifesaving care.”
Last month, the city began counting probable-COVID deaths in its tally—meaning people who had symptoms for the virus but died at home or somewhere else without a lab test—after Gothamist/WNYC reported a surge of people dying at home. At the time, counting the probable-COVID deaths put the death toll up by about 3,700 to more than 10,000 New Yorkers. As of May 10th, NYC’s death count totaled 19,931, including confirmed and probable coronavirus patients.
Counting all deaths during the pandemic—regardless of cause—”provides a more sensitive measure of the total number of deaths than would be recorded by counting laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19 associated deaths,” the report says.
With WNYC’s Gwynne Hogan.