The coronavirus pandemic, directly or indirectly, may have killed far more people in New York City than the official Covid-19 death toll shows, according to a report released Monday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report looked at excess mortality in the city and found that 24,172 more people died since mid-March compared to what would normally be expected.
About 19,000 of these were either confirmed or probable coronavirus deaths. But more than 5,000 of the city’s excess deaths had no explicit connection to Covid-19, the team, led by Donald Olson of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, reported.
It’s difficult to know why exactly those deaths occurred. But Olson’s team noted that people with underlying conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, are more likely to die from coronavirus infections and such deaths may not have been directly attributed to Covid-19.
“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,” they wrote.
The findings add to a growing body of evidence showing how the coronavirus pandemic may be killing people without ever infecting them. For example, experts have said that a decline in reported heart attacks and strokes in the US is likely the result of people avoiding emergency rooms.
“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,” the researchers, from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the CDC, wrote in their report.