New York City’s death toll due to the coronavirus pandemic may be higher than previously thought, with thousands of potential fatalities not included in the official death count, according to newly released data by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

What to Know

  • CDC data: 5,293 fatalities are not in the NYC confirmed or probable coronavirus death count
  • The CDC says the excess deaths may be directly or indirectly linked to the pandemic

A Potentially Much Higher Death Count

Even after counting the number of confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths, the data show the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene still recorded an additional 5,293 deaths.

According to the CDC, the excess deaths may be directly or indirectly linked to the pandemic.

The city’s official death toll from confirmed and likely COVID-19 cases stands at 19,931, according to numbers last updated 6 p.m. Sunday.

But by the CDC’s measurements, the numbers from March 11 — just two days before the city’s lockdown order went into effect — to May 2 show the city had 24,172 deaths more than expected this time of year.

Of the 24,172 deaths, the CDC found 78 percent of them qualified as confirmed or probably COVID-19 deaths.

That number still leaves 5,293 more deaths over the average baseline.

The CDC report says the additional deaths could be attributed to people who had underlying conditions that may have led officials to attribute their deaths to those conditions and not the virus.

In addition, other deaths were likely caused by the fear of contracting the virus, which led people to delaying essential medical care leading to their deaths.

“The 5,293 excess deaths not identified as confirmed or probable COVID-19–associated deaths might have been directly or indirectly attributable to the pandemic,” the CDC wrote. “The percentages of these excess deaths that occurred in persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 or resulted from indirect impacts of the pandemic are unknown and require further investigation.”

City health officials and Mayor Bill de Blasio have said they believe there have been other deaths unrelated to COVID-19 but linked to the overall health crisis. It is not yet clear how the city plans to account for the numbers.

“There’s only so much unfortunately we’re ever going to know about those who passed away in that circumstance,” de Blasio said. “I think it’s fair to say a number of those deaths probably had a connection to COVID-19.”

In a statement Monday evening, a spokesperson for the city health department said, “This crisis has taken a devastating toll on our city and we are still working to fully measure the scale of what we’ve lost. This is a critical part of both understanding the virus as well as the healing process that New Yorkers will go through.”

A Glimmer of Hope for a Reopening This Summer

For the first time in weeks, de Blasio on Monday offered a glimmer of hope for New Yorkers desperate to end their quarantine.

“I think it's fair to say that June is when we are potentially going to be able to make some real changes if we can continue our progress,” the mayor said. “As we get close to the beginning of June, we'll be able to say if it's looking like things are really coming together, and then what are the areas where we could begin to have some flexibility.”

The mayor is cautiously optimistic: a reopening effort will have to be done in phases and carefully measured steps — whatever needs to be done to avoid a possible uptick in cases, a second wave which could force the city back into quarantine.

“We got to guard against the boomerang,” he said. “And at any point, if the data started to change, that then delays the moment when you could do any kind of loosening of restrictions.”

For weeks, the city has been tracking three key indicators used to determine progress:

  • The number of hospitalizations
  • The number of people in intensive care units (ICUs)
  • The percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19

All three must trend downward for at least 10 days.



What to Do If You Test Positive for COVID-19

How Hospitals Protect Against the Spread of Coronavirus

Coronavirus Likely Spreads Without Symptoms

Coronavirus: The Fight to Breathe

Cuomo Orders Non-Essential Workers to Stay Home

NYC Businesses to Be Fined If Caught Price Gouging Face Masks

MTA Crews Cleaning to Prevent Coronavirus Spread

Cuomo Granted Broad New Powers as New York Tackles Coronavirus