Back to the Question of Excess Death

More evidence that we are under-counting deaths due to Covid-19.

The NYT has an analytical piece that underscores that the real death toll from Covid-19 is somewhat higher than the official counts provide: The True Coronavirus Toll in the U.S. Has Already Surpassed 200,000.

Across the United States, at least 200,000 more people have died than usual since March, according to a New York Times analysis of estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is about 60,000 higher than the number of deaths that have been directly linked to the coronavirus.

As the pandemic has moved south and west from its epicenter in New York City, so have the unusual patterns in deaths from all causes. That suggests that the official death counts may be substantially underestimating the overall effects of the virus, as people die from the virus as well as by other causes linked to the pandemic.

Note that the official count as of this evening is 170,271.

The piece itself has numerous charts and graphs and I would recommend surfing over to see the full report.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Gustopher says:

    I’m a little disappointed with the article, because it’s missing graphs I would want to see — specifically, separate out the known Covid deaths, and plot the Covid deaths and excess excess deaths on the same graph.

    Does it show a tight correlation, which would indicate that these are directly caused by the virus?

    Or does it differ enough that we might be seeing deaths from people afraid to get health care? (I would expect that to spike after confirmed cases)

    Or does it follow the imposition of social distancing?

    And do two lines correlate differently in states with Republican vs. Democratic governors?

    I know what I expect — the Covid deaths tracking very closely with the non-Confirmed-Covid excess deaths, and a few states where the numbers are clearly being cooked. It’s what I expect, but I might be wrong. And the data is right there, waiting to be properly visualized.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: Does it show a tight correlation, which would indicate that these are directly caused by the virus? Or does it differ enough that we might be seeing deaths from people afraid to get health care?

    While health care professionals and people in govt would need to know, to me as a voter that is a distinction without a difference.

    Somebody in Mobile AL is experiencing chest pains but is afraid to go to his over flowing with Covid hospital, so he convinces himself his chest pains are just indigestion and is dead an hour later, as far as I’m concerned it is still covid related.

    But again, I’m not speaking epidemiologically, just as a voter who knows who’s to blame.

  3. Jay L Gischer says:

    I’m now aware of two individuals, one of whom I spoke with regularly, who have died suddenly. Both died in the manner of “fell asleep quietly in their chair”, with no warning or illness. Both were under 50 years old. We haven’t seen an autopsy yet, stroke or some kind of coronary seems likely.

    Is this another form of covid? It’s hard to say. This does seem like the kind of thing the “extra deaths” might be picking up.

  4. SC_Birdflyte says:

    There is also a lengthy analytical piece in The Wall Street Journal today about the pandemics of this century and why we haven’t learned the lesson about how to prepare for them.

  5. de stijl says:

    There are bright people who have front edge knowledge employing scary smart statisticians looking at this right GD now.

    How much of excess deaths are attributable to C19?

    If someone could not or chose not to seek treatment for an unrelated matter, is that attributable? Seems like a direct consequence to me.

    We need to be honest.