The US government is classifying the deaths of any and all patients with coronavirus, as COVID-19 deaths -- no matter the underlying health conditions that killed them.
The news is coming directly from Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force. She said that the federal government is still counting suspected COVID-19 deaths, even though nations around the world are doing the opposite of this.
Dr. Birx said during a Tuesday news briefing at the White House: "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. Some countries are recording that as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death".
She added: "The intent is... if someone dies with COVID-19, we are counting that".
Reporters in the room asked Dr. Birx if numbers could skew the data that the US government is trying to collect, to which she responded that it would more apply to rural areas where COVID-19 testing isn't being done on a larger scale.
Dr. Birx added: "I'm pretty confident that in New York City and New Jersey and places that have these large outbreaks and COVID-only hospitals. I can tell you they are testing".
Fox News contributor Dr. Michael Baden, said that it is reasonable to count the death of someone infected with COVID-19 -- but had other health issues -- as a COVID-19 death. He explained: "In the normal course, autopsies would then determine whether the person died of the effects of the COVID virus, whether the person had a brain tumor or brain hemorrhage, for example, that might be unrelated to it and what the relative significance of both the infection and the pre-existing disease is".
Autopsies on those who have died are low because of concerns of contracting COVID-19, with Baden adding: "Then you will include in those numbers some people who did have a pre-existing condition that would have caused death anyway, but that's probably a small number".
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