BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — New data from the CDC suggests the coronavirus-related death toll in several states, including Massachusetts, may have been undercounted.
Between March 8th and April 11th, the official COVID-19 death toll in Massachusetts was 686. According to new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state saw 1,200 more deaths than normal during that period.
That's a 120 percent increase over the typical death rate for the past five years, suggesting there may be more deaths that can be attributed to COVID-19.
Over those same weeks, total death numbers due to all causes spiked in six other states also being hit hard by the pandemic. As The New York Times reports, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Maryland and Colorado have reported 50 percent higher than usual death tolls between March 8th and April 11th.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Baker said during early March, COVID-19 was not necessarily being considered as the cause of death in many cases.
"I think most people believe that COVID-19 death rates are probably undercounted, because it was here... well it was in a lot of paces, before people truly understood and appreciated what it was," said Baker. "People have gone back and started to do some work to try and figure out if there are cases where people presented with what would have been deemed as COVID-19 type symptoms and possibly were categorized in some other way.
According to The New York Times, it is difficult to know whether the seven states are reporting thousands of excess deaths due to an undercount of those attributed to coronavirus, or whether it is due to a surge in deaths from other causes.
Baker said most of the work to determine the causes of deaths during March and April is being done by the coroner's office in conjunction with the Chief Medical Examiner.
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