The federal government is classifying every American who dies infected with coronavirus as having died from COVID-19 itself, even if the actual cause of their death was by some other means.
White House coronavirus task force official Dr. Deborah Birx confirmed the government's coding practice at a White House press conference on Tuesday.
There are other countries that if you had a pre-existing condition, and let's say the virus caused you to go to the ICU [intensive care unit] and then have a heart or kidney problem," Birx said at Tuesday's press briefing at the White House. "Some countries are recording that as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death. The intent is … if someone dies with COVID-19, we are counting that."
Asked about the possibility that such a practice might skew the pandemic data, Birx said that such concerns might be appropriate in rural areas with low testing rate. She said she was "pretty confident" that testing was taking place in the hardest-hit areas such as New York and New Jersey.