Sen. Warren Wants Information on CDC’s Efforts To Understand & Respond To Alarming COVID-19 Mortality Rates

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The following is a media release from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office. She was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. She is a Democrat.

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WASHINGTON DC – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn.), all members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requesting information on what the agencies are doing to understand and respond to the alarming excess mortality rates associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their letter follows President Trump’s repeated efforts to downplay the severity of the pandemic and his falsehoods about the disease “affecting virtually nobody.” (Read the letter here – Letter)

Newly released CDC data reveal that “an estimated 299,028 excess deaths occurred from late January through October 3, 2020, with 198,081 (66%) excess deaths attributed to COVID-19.”

The other 100,000 deaths could be explained by weaknesses in data collection, or complications from individuals not seeking care for other illnesses that are exacerbated by the pandemic, according to the CDC.

For example, deaths from Alzheimer’s, dementia, and respiratory diseases have increased in 2020 compared to past years, but the CDC is not yet clear whether these are misclassified COVID-19 deaths, or deaths indirectly related to the pandemic from disruptions in health care access.

“These are highly alarming data, revealing that, in addition to the horrific toll known from COVID-19 in the United States, over 100,000 more fatalities may have been directly or indirectly associated with the pandemic. This new accounting of excess fatalities is particularly disturbing because it comes as President Trump continues to downplay the toll of the pandemic with a series of blustering falsehoods about the disease “affect(ing) virtually nobody”  as he attempts to distract the nation from his failed response to the pandemic,” wrote the Senators.

The CDC’s analysis found a high percentage of excess deaths in young adults: the most significant percentage increase in excess deaths has occurred among adults ages 25 to 44.

The CDC also found that the coronavirus pandemic significantly increased deaths overall among people of color: Latinos experienced a 54% increase in mortality, Black people experienced a 33% increase, American Indians or Alaska Native people experienced a 29% increase, and Asian Americans experienced a 37% increase. White Americans experienced just a 12% increase.

Despite the alarming number of excess deaths associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump has repeatedly lied to the American people in an effort to “downplay” the severity of the pandemic, including by falsely repeating that the COVID-19 pandemic has been more deadly in Europe than in the United States.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which looked at per-capita death rates in 2020, “excess all-cause mortality was higher in the US than in all high-mortality countries.” 

“Regardless of the President’s ignorance, his shamelessness, or his serial falsehoods, HHS and CDC have a duty to safeguard the public health and should be taking steps to more fully understand the excess mortality rate and curb rising mortality caused directly or associated with COVID-19,” the senators continued. 

The lawmakers asked the agencies to respond to their questions no later than November 10, 2020.

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