Health Official Says US Will Look Into Allegations of Inflated Coronavirus Death Numbers
Todd Starnes, the host of the “Todd Starnes Radio Show,” pressed a top U.S. health official Friday about the possibility of inflated coronavirus death numbers from cash-strapped hospitals that may be desperate for a larger federal payout.
Starnes said he has been receiving letters from doctors who say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s preferred counting method to tally coronavirus deaths is far too broad. Doctors say many deaths being attributed to the pandemic are not scientifically proven. Starnes said the lack of evidence is troubling because government officials used the virus to justify closing down large parts of the economy.
Eric Hargan, the deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said the government will look into these allegations of inflated coronavirus death numbers.
“Well, what I’m saying is that we all know human nature is what it is and so you’re getting those kinds of reports, we’ve heard about it,” Hargan said.
Hargan said that country health officials have laid out guidelines for states on how to control the pandemic, but lockdown orders ultimately rest with state and local officials. He said his agency has stressed good hygiene and social distancing.
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“We operate in facts,” Starnes responded. “And it concerns me that it sounds to me the numbers are being inflated and we don’t know the reasons why. Is it a financial reason, because hospitals need the money to pay their bills, or is it because at the end of the day” the virus is less deadly than the seasonal flu?
Starnes spoke to a physician last month who raised concerns about the CDC guidelines. Dr. Scott Jensen, who is also a Minnesota state senator, said the agency wants doctors to list COVID-19 as the official cause of death for patients who have not officially been tested for the disease. These patients may have died of, say, pneumonia and were in contact at some point with a person with coronavirus.
Hargan said the government is trying to strike a balance on how to classify coronavirus deaths as well as the number of those recovered. He pointed out that in many cases, virus carriers are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms, so it is very difficult to determine the recovery rate. He also pointed out that it is difficult to determine how much a role the virus played in an individual’s death who has serious underlying conditions.
Starnes said the lack of data is troubling. The country has been essentially locked down for weeks under the impression that if residents leave their homes, they could contract a deadly disease.
He said it would be “scandalous” if we used faulty data to destroy the country’s economy and way of life for a disease that could be compared to a mild strain of the flu.