adjust Quietly

No, the CDC did not ‘quietly adjust’ US coronavirus deaths – Detroit Free Press

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump shared two posts that falsely claimed COVID-19 deaths are not as high as previously thought. 

The posts claimed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its COVID-19 death numbers to show that only 9,210 Americans have died from the virus. Twitter removed the first tweet for violating its rules. Another post from Jenna Ellis, a senior legal adviser for the Trump campaign, linked to a story from the Gateway Pundit, a conservative news site. That tweet was still up as of publication.

The tweets misconstrue federal data on COVID-19 victims.

As of Aug. 31, the CDC reported that 182,622 Americans have died since the start of the pandemic — and some estimates put the death toll even higher. The agency told us that the vast majority of deaths involving COVID-19 can be attributed to the virus. 

Claims that the CDC adjusted its COVID-19 death numbers appear to have originated on Facebook before making their way to Trump’s Twitter feed, according to VineSight, an organization that uses artificial intelligence to surface potential misinformation. Several posts have been shared thousands of times.

“CDC just backpedaled (quietly) and adjusted the US Covid deaths from 153,504 to 9,210,” said Amiri King, a social media influencer and CBD salesman, in an Aug. 31 post that shows a screenshot of King’s tweet, which was also deleted. “Admitting that their numbers were so f—ed that they were off by a whopping 94%.”

The posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Posts misconstrue CDC data

The social media posts trace back to an Aug. 26 update from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which is part of the CDC. The report is updated every Wednesday and outlines provisional death counts for COVID-19.

In his post, King cited an older version of a data table about deaths from COVID-19 in combination with other conditions, such as pneumonia and influenza.

In a section titled “Comorbidities,” the NCHS wrote: “For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.”

That data comes from death certificates.

King cited an older version of the NCHS report that analyzed 153,504 deaths involving COVID-19. Six percent of that figure is 9,210. 

To some readers, the report may appear to confirm his math. But it doesn’t.

In medicine, comorbidities are conditions that patients experience in tandem with a primary condition. According to the CDC, people with preexisting conditions like cancer and diabetes are more at risk of death if they contract the coronavirus.

The NCHS report shows that the vast majority of coronavirus-related deaths occur in patients with comorbidities. But that doesn’t mean COVID-19 wasn’t a factor.

“A small number of people have COVID ascribed as the sole cause of death. It may be they had no comorbidities or they were just not noted,” said Dr. Myron Cohen, director of the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “However, it is also clear that advanced age and several other underlying diseases lead to bad outcomes with COVID infections. The people dying were not going to die but for the acquisition of COVID.” 

In a Facebook post addressing claims about the NCHS report, Dr. Mark Halstead, an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery and pediatrics at Washington University, broke down how conditions are listed on a patient’s death certificate.

RELATED: Don’t trust this comparison of daily coronavirus deaths with other diseases

“So, let’s say someone was admitted to the hospital because of symptoms of COVID. They test positive, so COVID would be listed,” Halstead said in the post. “Their case progressed where they developed respiratory failure and now are on a ventilator. Respiratory failure can be listed.”

Additional conditions may be listed on a patient’s death certificate during the course of their stay in the hospital. For example, if a COVID-19 patient ended up dying from cardiac arrest, that could also be included.

“So now three things are listed on their death certificate,” Halstead wrote. “The COVID infection started the process but that led to the heart and lungs failing, which killed that person.”

Jeff Lancashire, acting associate director for communications at the NCHS, told us in an email that while 94% of death certificates that mention COVID-19 also listed other conditions, the underlying cause of death was COVID-19 in almost all of them.

“The underlying cause of death is the condition that began the chain of events that ultimately led to the person’s death,” he said. “In 92% of all deaths that mention COVID-19, COVID-19 is listed as the underlying cause of death.”

We reached out to King for a comment, but we haven’t heard back.

Our ruling

A Facebook post claimed that the CDC decreased the number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. from 153,504 to 9,210.

That’s wrong. As of Aug. 31, the CDC counted 182,622 Americans who had died because of the coronavirus.

A NCHS report found that, for about 6% of Americans who die from the virus, COVID-19 is the only condition listed on their death certificates. But that doesn’t mean the remaining 94% didn’t die due to the coronavirus.

People with preexisting conditions, such as cancer or diabetes, have a higher risk of dying if they contract COVID-19. Complications from those conditions, as well as comorbidities like influenza and pneumonia, can be listed in addition to the coronavirus on death certificates. In 92% of death certificates that mention the virus, COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death, according to the NCHS.

The Facebook post is inaccurate and makes a ridiculous claim. We rate it Pants on Fire.

The Detroit Free Press is publishing fact checks on public issues in conjunction with PolitiFact, a nonprofit national news organization. Suggest a fact-check here.

Read or Share this story:

Read More

Quietly Revises

CDC quietly revises coronavirus guidance to downplay importance of testing for asymptomatic people – CNBC

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Robert Redfield testifies before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the Trump Administration’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 23, 2020.

Kevin Dietsch | Pool via Reuters

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is no longer recommending testing for everyone who’s been exposed to Covid-19, saying people who don’t have symptoms “do not necessarily need a test.”

The agency quietly revised its testing guidance for asymptomatic individuals Monday, advising people who are vulnerable to the virus to get tested if they have been within 6 feet of an infected individual for at least 15 minutes. 

The agency previously recommended testing for anyone with a “recent known or suspected exposure” to the virus even if they did not have symptoms. The CDC’s previous guidance cited “the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission” as a reason why people without symptoms who were exposed to the virus be “quickly identified and tested.” Numerous studies have shown that people who don’t have symptoms can still carry and spread the virus — even in the presymptomatic stage a few days before symptoms appear or if they are asymptomatic and never develop symptoms. 

“You do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or State or local public health officials recommend you take one,” the CDC’s site now says of people without symptoms who were in close contact with an infected person for at least 15 minutes. “A negative test does not mean you will not develop an infection from the close contact or contract an infection at a later time.”

The agency, which directed CNBC to HHS for comment, also added new language referring to asymptomatic individuals as “healthy people,” language that’s frequently used in social media posts protesting the use of masks. 

“In areas where there are limited number of new cases, State or local public health officials may request to test a small number of asymptomatic ‘healthy people,’ particularly from vulnerable populations,” the new guidance reads.

The CDC’s updated guidance still acknowledges that people can carry and spread the virus, even if they don’t have symptoms and feel healthy. In the CDC’s pandemic planning scenarios, the agency says its “current best estimate” is that up to 50% of spread of the virus occurs before patients begin to experience symptoms.

Some epidemiologists criticized the change in guidance because of the role that asymptomatic people are suspected of playing in spreading the virus.

“This makes no sense. People without symptoms account for up to 50% of transmission,” tweeted Dr. Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University and former health commissioner of Baltimore. “We need MORE testing, not less.”

Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the CDC under President Barack Obama, said on Twitter that the change is “probably indefensible” and was “likely imposed on CDC’s website.”

Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association and former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, called the change “bizarre.”

“Testing contacts is a core part of contact tracing!” he said on Twitter. 50% of transmission happens before symptoms occur & you make this policy decision? ⁦⁦The CDC brand is toast.”

The updated guidance also removed a line on the importance of testing and surveillance to the U.S. national response plan.

The guidance previously read: “Testing is a fundamental part of the United States SARS-CoV-2 Surveillance Plan, which uses multiple surveillance systems and epidemiology networks to monitor the progression and impact of SARS-CoV-2 spread in the United States.”

The guidance was updated “to reflect current evidence and best public health practices,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir, who leads the Trump administration’s testing effort.

“The updated Guidance places an emphasis on testing individuals with symptomatic illness, those with a significant exposure or for vulnerable populations, including residents and staff in nursing homes or long term care facilities, critical infrastructure workers, healthcare workers and first responders, and those individuals (who may be asymptomatic) when prioritized by public health officials,” he said in a statement. 

Read More

Added Quietly

The CDC Quietly Added to Its List of COVID Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea, and Congestion –

It looks like the list of symptoms was officially changed on May 13.

COVID-19 has a wide array of symptoms—apparently much wider than we originally thought. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially added to the list of potential COVID symptoms back in May, and we are only now beginning to notice the new additions: 

  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

These were added to the existing list of symptoms that included:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat

More information about the disease is becoming available all the time, so of course, the CDC and other health experts are constantly revising their data. In fact, the CDC states as much on its page: “This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.”

The additions of congestion/runny nose, nausea/vomiting, and diarrhea are significant because they change our assessment of our own symptoms and overall health—and, consequentially, our risk of unknowingly spreading the virus to the people around us. The wide array of symptoms is confounding, too, since somebody who thought they had the stomach flu or a mild cold may have, in fact, been suffering from the coronavirus all along. The symptoms play out differently in every person.

What do you think? Did you know the CDC had officially added to the list of coronavirus symptoms? Tell us in the comments!

*We took a poll here in our office, and less than 20 percent of our employees knew that the CDC had changed its official list of symptoms.

Read More