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Pandemic Task Force leader says new CDC report on COVID-19 deaths a ‘gross misinterpretation’

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI)- The head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force says a new CDC report on COVID-19 deaths is a gross misinterpretation.

The CDC released a new report stating 94% of people who died from COVID-19 since February had contributing health problems.

Dr. Alex Garza, the chief of the task force, says the fact that common, pre-existing medical conditions often coincide with coronavirus infections makes it extremely scary.

Garza says respiratory failure is a contributing cause of death and COVID-19 causes respiratory failure, so it would be listed on a death certificate.

“This is no different than how the CDC reports other deaths and causes and contributing factors. That doesn’t mean COVID did not cause the death,” said Dr. Garza.

Dr. Garza says he isn’t trying to scare people, rather inform. He says a good way to understand this is by looking at the excess deaths in America this year.

“If you look at data from previous years compared to this year, were it not for COVID, we would not have had 200,000 excess deaths,” Dr. Garza said.

In fact, Dr. Garza says if anything, the US is probably under counting deaths due to COVID-19.

He also shared his thoughts about herd immunity’s role. He said that only happens with a vaccine or letting the virus run through the population.

“The other side of that is you don’t want to accumulate all those deaths in order to reach herd immunity. So we have to control the transmission to keep fewer people sick,” said Dr. Garza.

He also said the U.S. is nowhere near herd immunity, which means 60% of the population had COVID-19.

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