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CDC data shows majority of people who died from COVID-19 had pre-existing conditions



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data last week that shows the majority of people who have died from COVID-19 had pre-existing medical conditions.

Only 6% of deaths have only COVID-19 listed in the death report, according to the CDC.

"For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned," the report said. "For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death."

The website listed some of the top pre-existing conditions listed in COVID-19-related deaths as:

  • Heart Disease
  • Renal Failure
  • Diabetes
  • Influenza and pneumonia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases

The CDC's report uses death certificates. The organization says this is the most accurate way to measure COVID-19 statistics.

Dr. Randall Williams, Director of Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services said that comorbidity, which is when a patient has two disorders at the same time, is common in all death certificates, not just for COVID-19.

"It is not uncommon at all for there to be more than one diagnosis listed as the cause of death," Williams said.

Williams said that the numbers released by the CDC are more of an affirmation of something the public already knew, that COVID-19 impacts those with pre-existing conditions at a disproportionate rate.

"If that is listed as the cause of death, COVID-19, then that is the attributing factor to the cause of death," Williams said.

Ashton Day, with Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services, spoke on the new numbers as well.

She explained that even if someone has an underlying condition the death is still COVID-related because, "there's reason to believe the COVID-19 virus played a role in their death."

She also said it is concerning that CDC data shows that for 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was mentioned as the only cause.

"6% of 180,000.... you've got to be looking at several thousand people who were in otherwise perfect health," Day said. "I don't know about you, but I don't know too many people who are in perfect health."

That new report is available on the CDC's website.

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Ben Fein

Ben Fein is a multimedia journalist for ABC 17 News. You can usually see his reports on weekend mornings or weekdays at 5, 6 and 6:30 p.m. on KMIZ.


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