Should the new CDC 6% figures for COVID mortality change our response?


Fact Box

  • As of September 3, there have been 6,087,403 million coronavirus cases in the United States, with 185,092 total deaths. 
  • According to a new study by the CDC, “for 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.”
  • For school districts, the CDC has laid out measures for re-opening; if there's moderate spread, it recommends social distancing, masks, and increased sanitation. But school closure is important in areas with uncontrolled spread. Virtual learning should be in place on that account.
  • If you are sick with COVID-19, have related symptoms, or have been in close contact with someone who has the virus, it is important to stay home and social distance.

Jon (No)

The metric being thrown around in this question is framed in a particular way that undermines the COVID-19 issue's severity. The 6% stated in the aforementioned CDC study defines deaths where COVID-19 is the 'only cause mentioned.' It's common to understand the virus is much more lethal when contracted by someone with an already compromised immune system. With that in mind, this 6% metric seems only to outline a population of people who've died directly from the virus, not those who have also died from it despite having pre-existing conditions. In addition to this, these numbers are even harder to track due to the lack of consistency of reports both from individual states and national statistics as a whole. Inconsistencies coded into the CDC's database can drastically change the data consensus.

In the same article where this metric is found, researchers state 'for deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.' COVID-19 may not be as effective in killing an entirely healthy human body, but at-risk communities, particularly older folks, are almost at 10%. While this isn't as lethal by itself, the virus is strong enough to have killed many people, and the CDC predicts that '196,000 to 207,000 total COVID-19 deaths' will be reported by September 19. The current number of coronavirus cases in the US exceeds 6 million, with the death toll over 185 thousand as of September 3. The safety provisions we have been utilizing and enacting throughout the US must stay where they are at if we truly want to eradicate this virus.

Noah (Yes)

Based on newly released CDC 6% figures for COVID mortality, we should immediately change our pandemic response. According to the new data, 94% of fatalities associated with COVID-19 infection have now been revealed to be directly related to severe pre-existing conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Only 6% of deaths have been identified as pure COVID-19 related. These are significant figures that can give the green light to reopening the nation's economy and in-class school attendance for healthy, non-infected Americans without ongoing serious medical problems.

That said, we should continue all health and sanitary precautions, such as wearing masks in public and encourage frequent hand-washing. These procedures will also significantly cut down the spread of influenza this winter. Those individuals, both young and old, with significant pre-existing conditions, should be asked to continue home quarantine and self-isolation, avoiding public places until vaccination becomes available later this year or early 2021. But we should reopen things now so healthy people can get back to their work, gyms, houses of worship, and businesses. Young students without pre-existing conditions should also be allowed to return to schools and colleges.

CDC's newly released 6% mortality figures back up Sweden's correct decision to not shut down their economy and their schools from the beginning of the pandemic. Their mortality rates, on a per capita basis, have been low. They got it right. Knowing what we know now about the nation's decision to shut down our economy, this new data proves we can go forward prudently to get healthy Americans back to work and back in class. 

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