COVID-19 Is Not the Number One Killer

Anyone who read our blog knows that we like to fact check. We just don’t like misinformation. We think the best way to arm ourselves, and our customers, in any situation is to look at the science behind something. We frequently examine fad diets and so-called superfoods. Many articles have claimed that COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death. While COVID-19 is undoubtedly a threat and potentially deadly, that didn’t sound quite right. As with a lot of health rumors we hear, we turned to the CDC to get the facts. No, COVID-19 is not the leading cause of death.

"There are no data to support that theory," said Jeff Lancashire, a spokesperson for the National Center for Health Statistics. People who are making this claim are the number of daily COVID-19 deaths to the estimate of how many people die from other causes using CDC data. Jeff Lancashire continued, "We have limited data on 2020 deaths by cause, and no final official numbers yet for 2019, but we do know by looking at the final death totals in 2018 for the two leading causes of death in the U.S., Heart Disease and Cancer, there is no way that at this point COVID-19 comes anywhere close to those totals.”

Between January and April, in 2018, more than 234,000 people died of heart disease and almost 199,000 people died of cancer in the U.S. More than 34,500 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. This clearly shows the that people claiming that it is the leading cause of death are incorrect. That death toll is distressing and cannot be understated, however, it is important to know the truth.

Experts do believe that the number of deaths connected to COVID-19 are higher than those being reported because of a lack of testing. That’s true. But, it’s not enough to replace heart disease as the leading cause of death. COVID-19 is also more dangerous for people who are already ill. “COVID-19 is going to be a very detrimental complication to your already existing disease,” said Dr. Garry Watts, president of the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners. He said in cases where COVID-19  played a role in a death but wasn’t the exact cause, it is listed as a contributing factor.

Moreover, when you step away from national averages, in your area, it might not be leading at all. For instance, in California, 330 people died from COVID-19 last week. While 1,202 people died from heart disease. COVID-19 deaths in the state would have to increase by eight-fold to be counted among the 10 leading causes of death by the end of the year.

There is fearmongering and misinformation all around us. Our plan is to always turn to reputable sources for information and to avoid “clickbait” headlines. COVID-19 is undoubtedly a large threat to public health. But, it is not the leading cause of death. It can worsen other medical conditions and it’s important to take care of yourself. Protect yourself by washing your hands, not touching your face, wearing a mask when you leave your home and social distancing. Following those steps, you can protect yourself and others from the virus. We are still learning about COVID-19, but it’s important to take a breath and make a plan to stay healthy instead of wringing our hands over false information.
April 17, 2020
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