Covid–19 is third leading cause of death in U.S.

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By Mark Ellis –

Lieutenant (junior grade) Natasha McClinton, a surgical nurse, prepares a patient for a procedure in the intensive care unit aboard the U.S. the hospital ship USNS Comfort. (Wikimedia commons)

Due to the omnipresent press coverage related to the Covid – 19 pandemic – and the fears this engenders – one may think the coronavirus is the leading cause of death in the United States.

However, the statistics tell a different story. “So far this year, three times as many people have died of heart ailments,” according to a report by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Bob Anderson, chief of mortality statistics for the National Center for Health Statistics, sheds light on the numbers. “I’ve got about one million deaths from January to April. About 230,000 are from heart disease. Nearly 200,000 are cancer deaths,” he told the WSJ.

With about 75,000 deaths from Covid -19 in the same time period, it ranks third as a cause of death.

Following closely behind Covid -19 are 61,000 deaths from chronic lower-respiratory disease, 55,000 from accidents, and 52,000 from strokes.

In some instances, the statistics related to Covid – 19 deaths may be inflated, because the CARES Act increases Medicare payments to hospitals treating COVID-19 victims.

“Hospital administrators might well want to see COVID-19 attached to a discharge summary or a death certificate. Why? Because if it’s a straightforward, garden-variety pneumonia that a person is admitted to the hospital for—if they’re Medicare—typically, the diagnosis-related group lump sum payment would be $5,000,” Dr. Scott Jensen told The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE).

“But if it’s COVID-19 pneumonia, then it’s $13,000, and if that COVID-19 pneumonia patient ends up on a ventilator, it goes up to $39,000.”

Earlier in March, Illinois’s top health official stated that any fatality diagnosed with the novel coronavirus would be classified as a COVID-19 death—regardless of whether it contributed to the patient’s death.

“If you died of a clear alternate cause, but you had COVID at the same time, it’s still listed as a COVID death,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of Illinois’s Department of Public Health, said.

Joseph Antioco, funeral director at Schaeffer Funeral Home in Brooklyn noted the problem in a report by Project Veritas. “Now they’re putting everything as COVID-19. Two weeks ago I had a 40-year-old man that died in his house. They didn’t even go to the house. The guy had no underlying causes, no medical conditions. They released him from the house without even going saying he had COVID-19 because he had a fever. But how do you know that’s what he had? You don’t.”

Jon Miltimore with FEE believes these aberrant incentives must be changed. “By creating a massive federal program that links goosed Medicare payments to COVID-19 treatments, the feds incentivized hospitals to add COVID-19 to diagnostic lists and death certificates. It also incentivized hospitals to get patients on ventilators, which may have done more harm than good, as hospitals have reported unusually high fatality rates for COVID-19 patients on ventilators.”