Officials on April 14 added 3,778 “probable” deaths to the official count, saying the patients likely died from the disease but that no test had confirmed the diagnoses.
Asked repeatedly about the addition during the daily briefing on the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, officials said they felt they had to make the change.
“We want to make sure that every New Yorker is counted that has been taken from this vicious virus,” Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot told reporters in Manhattan.
Mayor Bill de Blasio added, “We thought it was very important to portray this larger reality as more and more information was coming in.
“So many people have passed away, it was bigger than we fully understood or could document. And I think it could get bigger still.”
Along with the deaths presumed to be linked to COVID-19, there are 6,589 deaths in which patients were reported to have tested positive.
Another 8,184 people died who were not linked to COVID-19.
Between March 11 and April 13 last year, 5,167 deaths occurred in New York City, which is about 3,000 fewer than the 8,184 non-COVID-19 deaths during the same period this year, officials said. The mayor said he believes most of the additional deaths were attributable to COVID-19.
Officials said the influx of patients in recent weeks reportedly led to overburdened hospitals, and emergency dispatchers began prioritizing calls where people were in direct danger.
Barbot said that the pandemic and the strict measures put in place to try to blunt the spread of the virus lead to stress and that the disease could be linked to some deaths by heart attack that aren’t currently being counted as COVID-19 deaths.
She said it would take officials “a fair amount of time to tease out” what happened with the deaths presumed to be from COVID-19, “if we’re ever able to do that.”
“What we won’t have is severity of underlying illness, etc.,” she said.