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Excess Deaths: People Who Are Dying Because of COVID-19 — but Not from It
- Experts are becoming concerned about the number of “excess deaths” being reported during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Many of these non-COVID-related deaths may be happening because people are delaying or avoiding healthcare appointments due to fears of contracting the virus.
- Experts say it’s still important for people to go in for checkups and other appointments when and where they can.
- They note that many medical facilities outside of COVID-19 hot spots are less busy than usual.
Nearly a third of people in the United States are apparently not going in for routine healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A recent poll from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) reported that 29 percent of Americans are avoiding or delaying medical care due to fear of contracting the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.
Experts say that trend could lead to an increase in the number of people who die due to the pandemic but not directly from the virus itself.
“There are large proportions of Americans and people worldwide just afraid of coming to see the doctor, and it’s a huge concern because unfortunately routine medical illnesses don’t take a break because of coronavirus,” Dr. John N. Mafi, MPH, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the University of California Los Angeles, told Healthline.
In the early weeks of COVID-19, the United States recorded 15,000 “excess deaths.” That’s a term used to describe the number of deaths beyond what would typically be expected for that time of year.
Yale researchers found that from March 1 to April 4, there were 8,128 COVID-related deaths reported. Excess deaths accounted for nearly two times that amount for the same period.
The researchers say the number of excess deaths isn’t necessarily attributable directly to COVID-19, but it could include people who were too frightened to seek treatment for unrelated illnesses due to the pandemic.