What percentage of those who have been added to the COVID-19 death toll really died primarily or completely of other causes, especially those in nursing homes and hospices? How many would have died anyway within the day or week even without the virus? New data from the Minneapolis Department of Health obtained by CR shows the inflation of the COVID-19 death toll might be even higher than we first thought.
As noted throughout this crisis, the CDC guidance for coding a coronavirus death is so absurd that someone like George Floyd, who had an asymptomatic case of COVID-19 when he was allegedly choked to death by a Minneapolis cop, would be counted as a COVID-19 death. The only reason they are unlikely to add him to the list is because it would so obviously conflict with the narrative of police brutality that has now overtaken coronavirus panic porn as the new hotness in town. But how many others in Floyd’s situation, who clearly died of other causes but tested positive for the virus, were listed among the coronavirus death toll?
Kurt Nelson, who spent three decades in Minnesota law enforcement, paid for a public information request from the Minnesota Department of Health detailing the information on all the death certificates of those who died in the state this year through May 25. He sorted the spreadsheet officials sent him and found that of the 741 death certificates that listed COVID-19 at all as a contributing cause of death, on just 338 was the virus listed on “line A,” indicating that it was the primary cause of death. In other words, in only 44% of the cases was COVID-19 listed as the top and most immediate cause of death. In 287 of them, the virus was listed on line B, and in 116, the virus was listed on line C – with two other primary causes of death above it.
Nelson shared the spreadsheet with me, and I have independently confirmed this information. I also found another three cases where the virus was listed on line D as the 4th cause of death. The department confirmed with Nelson via email that the records are up to date as of May 25.
Now, it’s definitely likely that a certain percentage of those with COVID-19 listed in line B still can reasonably be added to the death toll. Among those 287 cases, 75 had “acute respiratory distress (ARD)” listed as the cause of death on line A. Among those with ARD on line A and COVID-19 on line B, the overwhelming majority were over 80 years old. Given the top-line data from the state, it’s likely that most of them were in nursing homes, where 22 percent of all annual deaths are due to pulmonary issues. This just underscores how difficult it is to truly determine the cause of death for those who had numerous comorbitities and were likely on their final months of life when the virus hit.
Nelson’s first observation is that he only saw a total of 741 coronavirus deaths (744 if you include the three I found all the way on line D) listed anywhere in the database of death certificates. As of May 25, Minnesota’s official tally of COVID-19 deaths was 899. There can be up to a five-day lag in reporting on the database, but that gap still cannot account for the official count being that much higher. Where those extra deaths come from, given that they are not reflected in the death certificate database, remains an open question.
Minnesota leads the nation with the highest percentage of official coronavirus deaths in senior care facilities, relative to the state’s overall death tally. At present, 83% of all deaths in Minnesota have been in senior care facilities. It’s one thing to list COVID-19 as the cause of death when it legitimately hastened their death by a few months. But in many of the cases where they died from Alzheimer’s, did the virus really contribute at all to their deaths?
Let’s not forget that while the virus is exponentially more lethal in seniors who are chronically ill, many seniors still only get an asymptomatic case of the virus – just like George Floyd. Now that they are testing everyone in nursing homes, a large percentage of the residents test positive, but a sizeable number of them are asymptomatic. To suggest that anyone who died of cancer, a heart attack, or Alzheimer’s but tested positive for the virus is a COVID-19 death is laughable.
Last month, I posted results of a Spanish antibody test, which showed that even among those in their 80s, 72 percent of those who tested positive had an asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic case. This new revelation casts serious doubt on the accuracy of the top-line death toll of 118,000 nationwide. We already saw in Colorado that there was a 25 percent difference between those who died with COVID-19 and those who died from it. In states like Minnesota where so many deaths were among those receiving some form elder care or even end-of-life care, it’s likely that a significant minority of those deaths were not just comorbidities but downright unrelated to the virus altogether.
I sorted through a number of the cases where the virus was listed as the second or third cause of death, and a number of them had stroke or dementia listed as the top cause of death. Some cases listed “lung cancer,” “terminal cerebral degeneration,” “stroke,” “Acute Renal Failure” or “Abdominal Catastrophe” as the primary cause of death. I saw one case where a COVID-19 death listed on line B had “infirmities of old age-refusing to take meds or eat” as the primary cause of death.
Coding these as COVID-19 deaths is about as absurd as what they did in Washington when they coded homicides as COVID-19 deaths simply because the decedent tested positive, or in Colorado, where they coded an alcohol poisoning death as a virus death.
Dan McGraw, president of Gill Brothers Funeral and Cremation in Minnesota, recently complained about the fact that almost all the deaths he deals with are being certified as the result of COVID-19, including those who died of cancer in hospice. “What useful purpose is being served to clump together decedents that passed away with COVID-19, and not necessarily as a direct cause?” asked the Twin Cities-area funeral director in an interview with a local media outlet.
This is likely occurring in every state. In Pennsylvania, where roughly 70 percent of official deaths occurred in senior care facilities, dementia is listed as the top condition among all those who died statewide.
Perhaps, if nothing else, this data reveal the broader appalling hypocrisy on the part of our political class, which induces one crisis after another. The same people who said we would all die if we don’t lock down even small gatherings are now actively sanctifying mass gatherings of thousands of people. Well, which crisis is it – a virus or police brutality? They can’t have it both ways.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.