The nation’s top infectious disease expert has addressed new data revealing that nearly every American who has died of coronavirus also had underlying conditions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 94 percent of those who have died of COVID-19 had at least one pre-existing health issue such as high blood pressure, obesity or diabetes.
This had led some to suggest that only 9,000 people in the US have died of the infection and not the official figure of more than 183,000.
In fact, even President Donald Trump retweeted a claim that discounted the coronavirus death toll, which was later taken down by Twitter for spreading false information.
In an appearance on Good Morning America on Tuesday, Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says the fatality count is not exaggerated and that COVID-19 is a contributing factor in all these deaths.
Dr Anthony Fauci addressed new CDC data that shows coronavirus listed as the sole cause of death for just 6% of the more than 183,000 fatalities in an appearance on Good Morning America on Tuesday (above)
Fauci said the new data only means that 94% of people died of a combination of COVID-19 and underlying conditions such as hypertension or diabetes. Pictured: Fauci (right) speaks with host Amy Robach
Fauci says clinicians can and should test people who have been exposed to the virus even if they don’t have symptoms after the CDC released on testing guidelines. Pictured: Nurse Kyah Paschall checks on 64-year-old-coronavirus patient Patricia Luera at Paradise Valley Hospital, National City, California, July 8
‘The point that the CDC was trying to make was that a certain percentage of [fatalities] had nothing else, just COVID,’ Fauci told anchor Amy Robach.
‘That does not mean that someone who has hypertension, diabetes who dies of COVID didn’t die of COVID-19. They did.
‘So the numbers you’ve been hearing, the 180,000-plus are real deaths from COVID-19. Let there not be any confusion about that, it’s not 9,000 deaths from COVID-19. It’s 180,000-plus deaths.’
Fauci also spoke about the CDC’s changed guidelines on coronavirus testing.
Last week the CDC suddenly amended its testing recommendations to say that people who have come into contact with COVID-19 patients but don’t have symptoms ‘do not necessarily need a test.’
Previously, the agency had urged anyone exposed to a confirmed patient to be tested for the virus.
During a media call with reporters on lat week, US ‘testing czar’ Adm Brett Giroir said the updated recommendations were discussed with members of the White House coronavirus task force, including Fauci.
But Fauci told CNN he ‘was under general anesthesia in the operating room and was not part of any discussion or deliberation regarding the new testing recommendations.’
He told Robach that the guideline was trying to make a point that not everyone who wants to be tested needs to be tested, but it ultimately created confusion.
‘There’s no doubt that there’s asymptomatic infection and that asymptomatic people can transmit and that you can and should test asymptomatic people,’ he said.
He said he believes President Donald Trump trusts him and his advice and that they ‘are on the same team.’ Pictured: Fauci speaks about the coronavirus, as Trump listens, April 17
Robach then asked Fauci if he thinks Trump trusts him and his advice after a recent interview in which the commander-in-chief said he doesn’t always agree with the physician.
‘I think he does,’ Fauci said.
‘I was at the White House yesterday at a task force meeting with the vice president and everything that we discussed what you just spoke about, regarding children, regarding everything that’s going on that gets to him and he understands that.
‘So, I think it’s a distraction to pit me against the president. We are all on the same team.’
He also discussed the reopening of schools and said there are green zones in which reopening can be done safely with measures such as wearing masks and yellow and red zones, in which viral activity is very high.
‘I might say though, importantly, the best way to get schools open is to decrease the rate and level of infection in your community,’ Fauci said.
‘So if you are in a red zone, get yourself into a yellow or green zone and we wouldn’t be having this conversation about whether or not to open the schools.’