Stand up for nonprofit news & help us reach our $100,000 goal! GIVE NOW
COVID-19

Pandemic death toll may have been undercounted, researchers say

Jasmine Garsd Jul 2, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Medical personnel at Brooklyn Hospital Center move a deceased patient to a refrigerated truck in April. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Pandemic death toll may have been undercounted, researchers say

Jasmine Garsd Jul 2, 2020
Medical personnel at Brooklyn Hospital Center move a deceased patient to a refrigerated truck in April. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The COVID-19 death toll is rising in America. And a new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that it might be higher than we think, by quite a bit.

So what are the implications for how government and hospitals face the pandemic moving forward?

Unsurprisingly, in March through May, there were more deaths in the U.S. than usual — around 122,000 more. But only 95,000 of them were officially attributed to COVID-19.

Now researchers say many of the remaining deaths — up to 28% more — may have been related to COVID-19. Anything from people who avoided going to the hospital for heart attacks to those who were just never properly diagnosed.

“It turns out there were a lot more people dying at home of heart attacks during peak COVID in New York City than you would’ve expected,” said Dr. Farzad Mostashari, one of the authors of the study.

This has serious implications for hospitals.

“They may not ask for the correct amount of mechanical ventilators, or personal protective equipment, or personnel that they may need,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja with Johns Hopkins University.

In other words, he says, underreporting can translate into being underprepared.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What does the unemployment picture look like?

It depends on where you live. The national unemployment rate has fallen from nearly 15% in April down to 8.4% percent last month. That number, however, masks some big differences in how states are recovering from the huge job losses resulting from the pandemic. Nevada, Hawaii, California and New York have unemployment rates ranging from 11% to more than 13%. Unemployment rates in Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota and Vermont have now fallen below 5%.

Will it work to fine people who refuse to wear a mask?

Travelers in the New York City transit system are subject to $50 fines for not wearing masks. It’s one of many jurisdictions imposing financial penalties: It’s $220 in Singapore, $130 in the United Kingdom and a whopping $400 in Glendale, California. And losses loom larger than gains, behavioral scientists say. So that principle suggests that for policymakers trying to nudge people’s public behavior, it may be better to take away than to give.

How are restaurants recovering?

Nearly 100,000 restaurants are closed either permanently or for the long term — nearly 1 in 6, according to a new survey by the National Restaurant Association. Almost 4.5 million jobs still haven’t come back. Some restaurants have been able to get by on innovation, focusing on delivery, selling meal or cocktail kits, dining outside — though that option that will disappear in northern states as temperatures fall. But however you slice it, one analyst said, the United States will end the year with fewer restaurants than it began with. And it’s the larger chains that are more likely to survive.

Read More

Collapse

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.