The US now has 101,000 people dead from Covid-19. It’s unimportant now who said we weren’t going to get here. We’re here and we’re still going. Actually, we probably got here several days ago, and there’s reason to believe that the true number of deaths is approaching 120,000, if not past it, as I’ll explain below.
Notice as well, the red areas in the chart below are starting to show up away from the East and West coasts, and the line chart for new cases is still rising in a fairly linear fashion.
Covid-19 is a tricky disease. No one dies from Covid — they die from pneumonia or stroke that Covid causes. If a person isn’t tested for Covid, they will not be counted in government figures for Covid deaths, at least in the US. And, as we all know, in the US, test kits are in short supply.
At the current rate of roughly 350,000 tests per day, it would take almost three years to test the entire US population once — and many people require retesting.
The other way to assess deaths is to calculate how deaths this year compare to the average for recent years. There have been no other natural disasters in the US since the Covid onset. (That’s not true in other areas, such as India and Pakistan with the recent typhoon.) There have been no other diseases or events to which these additional deaths could be attributed. This is essentially how the analysis of historical disasters has been done.
In some states, the number of these unaccounted for extra deaths is a big deal.
- California: There were 3,307 extra deaths between March 7th and April 9th, of which only 2,630 were formally attributed to Covid. That leaves 677 probable Covid cases that aren’t included in government data.
- Illinois: There were 4,843 excess deaths in this period, of which only 3,349 were confirmed as Covid-19. That leaves an additional 1,494 probable Covid deaths not included in government reporting.
- Michigan: There were 6,597 extra deaths of which only 4,596 were tested and confirmed as Covid. There are 2,071 additional deaths that were probably caused by the virus.
- Mississippi: There were 421 deaths attributed to Covid and another 456 excess deaths not confirmed as Covid.
- New Jersey had 9,116 deaths confirmed as Covid and another extra 4,254 not confirmed.
- New York had 26,584 deaths confirmed as Covid and another extra 9,057 not confirmed. During the height of the crisis, hospitals were simply too busy and had too few test kits to worry about those who had already died.
- Pennsylvania had 8,884 unexpected deaths during this period, of which only 3,688 were tested and confirmed as Covid-19. That leaves an additional 5,196 probable Covid deaths not counted as yet in the totals.
- South Carolina only reported 330 Covid deaths, but there were an additional 824 excess deaths during this period.
- Texas reported 1,086 Covid fatalities, but there were an additional 2,530 excess deaths.
- Virginia reported 827 Covid deaths, but had 1,237 other extra deaths.
Again, none of the “extra deaths” are now counted as Covid-19 deaths, but there is no alternative explanation for them. Martian invasion, anyone?
At the other extreme, there were no extra deaths in Connecticut, and all extra deaths in Hawai’i are identified as Covid. Hawai’i has used its natural resources — its ocean moat — to manage the risk of infection and seems to have stayed on top of the risk the best of any US state. Connecticut may have benefited from people going into NYC or Boston for treatment and dying there.
These numbers will be quite different in another month, as the South and Midwest ramp up with new cases. The number of cases in the US overall may level off (it hasn’t yet) but that may obscure growth of the disease in some regions being offset by decline in the Northeast.
The World Health Organization warned today of the risk of both a second peak in the current wave of this disease, as countries eliminate quarantine requirements, as well as a fall wave. With politicians focusing on the election rather than health, the US may be at singular risk.