“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” – Mark Twain
New York City “added more than 3,700 additional people who were presumed to have died of the coronavirus but had never tested positive.”
“The C.D.C., in its guidance to local governments, has recommended that cases of “assumed” coronavirus infection be noted on death certificates… ”
New York City, already a world epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, sharply increased its death toll by more than 3,700 victims on Tuesday, after officials said they were now including people who had never tested positive for the virus but were presumed to have died of it.
The new figures, released by the city’s Health Department, drove up the number of people killed in New York City to more than 10,000, and appeared to increase the overall United States death count by 17 percent to more than 26,000.
Mr. de Blasio decided, after another round of briefings over the weekend, to release the presumptive cases, the people said. Most of the added deaths took place in hospitals, according to the data. Others occurred in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities and in residences.
“In the heat of battle, our primary focus has been on saving lives,” said Freddi Goldstein, the mayor’s press secretary. “As soon as the issue was raised, the mayor immediately moved to release the data.”
New York City is among a handful of places in the country, including Connecticut, Ohio and Delaware, that are beginning to disclose cases where infection is presumed but not confirmed.
In California and Washington — locations of early cases in the American outbreak — officials said they included deaths as connected to Covid-19 only when the disease was confirmed by testing. Louisiana and Chicago followed the same protocol.
The new numbers in New York cover the weeks between March 11 to April 13, beginning at a time when the virus had already been spreading throughout the city and its surrounding suburbs. Mr. de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo shut down large swaths of the city and state by the third week of March.
New York City has been reporting the probable cases to the federal National Center for Health Statistics for more than a week, health officials said. But Dr. Barbot said that the city would continue reporting only confirmed cases to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for its coronavirus tracker, because the agency requested those statistics. “We are more than happy to report on probables,” she said.
The C.D.C., in its guidance to local governments, has recommended that cases of “assumed” coronavirus infection be noted on death certificates since before New York City recorded its first death on March 14.
On Tuesday, the city’s count of confirmed cases went up to 6,589.
The city and the state have at times differed in their counts of the dead in New York City. As of Monday, the state said that 7,349 had died of the virus in the city. City officials have complained that they are at the whim of the state, which has been slow to share the data it receives from hospitals and nursing homes. The state Health Department explained on its website that the discrepancy is caused by the city and state using “different data systems.”
The state Department of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the city’s decision to report suspected cases.