Utah Department of Health on CDC’s study regarding the percentage of COVID-19 deaths who had contributing factors

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the death of more than 180,000 people in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control released a study that depicts how many Americans who have died from COVID-19 also had contributing factors. The Utah Department of Health weighs in on the study.

The CDC reports 94 percent of the nearly 183,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19 had some sort of comorbidity in addition to the respiratory virus that led to their death.

“The bottom line is that we have 409 people – as of today – die in Utah from COVID-19,” said Tom Hudachko, a spokesperson for the Utah Department of Health. “And all 409 of those individuals would not have died on the day that they died if they had not been infected with COVID-19.”

Hudachko said it’s not surprising to Utah’s public health officials that those who’ve died had more than one contributing factor.

“You almost never find a death certificate where there’s just one cause of death. There’s almost always contributing factors to that,” Hudachko said.

Of the COVID-19 death certificates signed in Utah, Hudachko shares with ABC4 News an example of how death could be reported.

“The cause of death is going to be septic shock, due to respiratory failure, due to pneumonia that was caused by COVID-19,” Hudachko said.

In the CDC’s report, it notes 6% of deaths list COVID-19 as the only cause for their passing.

Hudachko said some on social media are trying to use the CDC’s report to minimize the effects of the respiratory virus and he says they should not.  

“This research should not be used to try to make the argument that COVID-19 is not as serious as we think it is,” Hudachko said. “There are almost 200 thousand in the country who have died of COVID-19. The fact that a small percentage of their death certificates said COVID-19 really shouldn’t be read into whatsoever.”

To ensure accuracy in reporting COVID-19 deaths, Hudachko said medical examiners throughout the state must investigate every COVID-19 death certificate.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that we examine all of those cases or that we autopsy all of those cases, but somebody in the medical examiner’s office is going to review the chart and the records of every single death that involves COVID-19 so that we can make a really solid and consolidated determination as of what was and what was not caused by COVID-19.”

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