According to the report, only 6% of deaths have COVID-19 as the only cause mentioned, revealing that 94% of patients who died from coronavirus also had other “health conditions and contributing causes.”
The report reads in part:
Table 3 shows the types of health conditions and contributing causes mentioned in conjunction with deaths involving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.
The CDC listed the following as the top underlying medical conditions linked to coronavirus deaths:
- Influenza and pneumonia
- Respiratory failure
- Hypertensive disease
- Vascular and unspecified dementia
- Cardiac arrest
- Heart failure
- Renal failure
- Intentional and unintentional injury, poisoning and other adverse events
- Other medical conditions
The CDC explains that their data uses provisional death counts to “deliver the most complete and accurate picture of lives lost to COVID-19.”
These numbers are based on death certificates, which the organization says are the most reliable source of data. Death certificates reportedly contain information that is not available anywhere else and includes comorbid conditions, race and ethnicity and place of death.
The CDC says provisional death counts may not match counts from other sources, such as numbers from county health departments, because death certificates take time to be completed, states report at different rates, it takes officials extra time to code COVID-19 deaths, and because other reporting systems use different definitions or methods for counting deaths.
The organization adds that provisional data is not yet complete, provisional counts are not final and are subject to change, and that death counts should not be compared across states.
Editor’s note: We’ve updated the language of this article to read “contributing conditions” when noting COVID-19 death percentages. In a previous version, those contributing conditions were labeled “underlying health conditions.”