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CDC report on coronavirus deaths underlines why COVID-19 is so dangerous

A new Centers for Disease Control report shows 94% of people who died after contracting COVID-19 had contributing health conditions.

Our thought bubble, via Axios’ Sam Baker: This report doesn’t mean that COVID isn’t as bad as we thought. It’s clear from the CDC’s statistics on excess deaths that more people are dying than usual, because of COVID. The fact that common pre-existing medical conditions often coincide with deadly coronavirus infections is part of what makes it scary — not a reason to write it off.

Of note: Twitter removed a post earlier Sunday retweeted by President Trump for violating its rules with a false interpretation of the CDC data.

  • The post incorrectly claimed the CDC had “quietly” updated its data “to admit that only 6%” of those listed in the U.S. coronavirus death toll “actually died from Covid” and that “the other 94% had 2-3 other serious illnesses,” CNN notes.
  • The post by a supporter of a baseless conspiracy theory has since been deleted.

Reality check: While the cause of death listed as solely from the novel coronavirus occurred in 6% of cases in the U.S. from Feb. 1 to Aug. 22, it does not mean that the virus was not a contributing factor in the other 94%. These people had more than one contributing factor to their deaths.

  • “People can live with obesity, diabetes or heart disease for years but then get infected with COVID-19 and die quickly,” CNN points out. “The fact that they also had an underlying condition does not mean that COVID-19 was not a major reason, or the major reason, they died when they did.”

For the record: For deaths with conditions or causes as well as COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death, according to the CDC.

  • The CDC reports the leading underlying medical conditions related to coronavirus deaths were:
  • Influenza and pneumonia.
  • Respiratory failure.
  • Hypertensive disease.
  • Diabetes.
  • Vascular and unspecified dementia.
  • Cardiac arrest.
  • Heart failure.
  • Renal failure.
  • Intentional and unintentional injury, poisoning and other adverse events.
  • Other medical conditions.

By the numbers: In the U.S., more than 183,000 deaths have been attributed to the coronavirus as of Sunday night, per Johns Hopkins data.

  • Almost 6 million have tested positive and over 2.2 million have recovered.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with more details on the false report on the CDC’s data and more context.

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