Fauci: 'Let There Not Be Any Confusion' on COVID Death Toll

NIAID director says yes, more than 180K have died, not just 9K, as claimed in tweet Trump shared
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2020 8:28 AM CDT
Fauci Debunks Tweet That Minimized COVID Toll
Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks on July 31, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP)

There have been nearly 185,000 deaths in the US from COVID-19, and Dr. Anthony Fauci is backing up that number after a misleading post retweeted by President Trump minimized the toll. Per the Hill, Trump on Sunday shared a since-deleted tweet from a QAnon fan named "Mel Q" that claimed the real death toll is just a fraction of what's been reported. As "evidence," the tweet mentioned the CDC's weekly update issued Aug. 26, where in the "comorbidities" section this line appeared: "For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned." Meaning, for the other 94%, an underlying condition existed in the patient, such as a respiratory or heart disease, obesity, or diabetes. And that, per Mel Q (and, apparently, the president) means that only about 9,000 people "actually" died from the coronavirus. Not so, says infectious disease expert Fauci, weighing in Tuesday on Good Morning America.

Fauci noted, "The numbers that you've been hearing—the 180,000-plus deaths—are real deaths from COVID-19." Then, for emphasis: "Let there not be any confusion about that, it's not 9,000 deaths from COVID-19, it's 180-plus-thousand deaths." Fauci explains that the 6% figure cited by the CDC was simply a reference to deceased patients who "had nothing else but just COVID. That does not mean that someone who has hypertension or diabetes who dies of COVID didn't die of COVID-19. They did." The CDC tells CNBC that death certificates "list all possible causes or conditions that lead to a person's death," but that the agency deems the "underlying cause of death" as "the condition that began the chain of events that ultimately led to the person's death"—which, in 92% of COVID deaths so far, was COVID. (It's not the first time Twitter has deleted a Trump-shared tweet on the coronavirus.)

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