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COVID-19 death report goes viral, local doctor explains its meaning

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A new CDC report went viral on social media saying only 6% of COVID-19 deaths listed the virus as the only cause, the other 94% had other health conditions. To better understand what is written by the CDC, KOLR10’s Robert Jehle sat down with an expert to break down the report.

CoxHealth infectious disease Doctor Robin Trotman says the confusion in this study is about death certificates, specifically, the cause of death and underlying health conditions.

“So if somebody has COVID-19 and comes into the hospital, they’re on the ventilator and they ultimately die from respiratory failure,” said Trotman. “We would put respiratory failure as the cause of death and then coronavirus would be on a list, like a sublist.”

Trotman says there are specific guidelines on how to fill out the cause of death. Rarely, a doctor would only list COVID-19 as the cause of death because the virus in it of itself doesn’t cause death.

“It causes pneumonia, which causes death,” said Trotman. “So what you see there is adequate work on a death certificate.”

COVID-19 deaths are up to 183,000 in America. Trotman says the overwhelming majority of the deaths are from respiratory failure.

Trotman explained the deaths that are clearly not caused by COVID-19 inflating the numbers are extremely uncommon.

“If there was an accidental gunshot or just something horrific, and they had a swab and they came in and they were asymptomatic, that would not be the cause of death,” said Trotman. “That is not what is causing this 6% of numbers. Those are one-off, very rare cases where you have an asymptomatic person who has a very clear discreet other cause of death and most people wouldn’t put that in the death certificate as a cause.”

One of the key arguments in a lawsuit against the city of Springfield is the low COVID-19 death rate, which is less than 2% of people who catch the virus.

“This isn’t an argument to universally mask, this is an argument to say there are other non-mortality based complications to this virus,” said Trotman. “You can’t just assess the severity based on death rates. To dehumanize it and say 2% of people are dying, I mean, those are people’s families.”

Trotman believes the economic impact of an outbreak is far worse than the preventative measures people are doing now.

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