Donald Trump is coming under fire after he suggested New York City inflated its death count from the coronavirus, making it appear as if a larger number had died as a result of the virus.
Trump made the suggestion on Wednesday, one day after the city revised the way it tracks fatalities from COVID-19. As the New York Post reported, the city added more than 3,700 victims to their total. These new additions included people who died after exhibiting symptoms of the viral infection but were not tested for the disease. Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump suggested some of the people may have died from other causes, such as a heart attack, but were being recorded as coronavirus deaths.
Trump went on to suggest some of the deaths were added to the official coronavirus death count “just in case” they had contracted the virus but without actual proof of it.
The remarks came under fire and the office of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio released a statement slamming the president for apparently minimizing the deaths.
“These were people with names, hobbies, lives,” said Freddi Goldstein, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office. “They leave behind grieving loved ones. They deserve to be recognized, not minimized.”
There had previously been suggestions the coronavirus death toll in New York City was much higher than what had been reported. An April 7 report from WNYC/Gothamist noted there had been a major surge in at-home deaths across the city and those found dead in their homes were not being added to the coronavirus death totals.
The report noted that — while the city at that point had 2,738 residents who died from confirmed cases of COVID-19, a rate of 245 per day for the last week — another 200 city residents were dying at home each day. Before the coronavirus pandemic, between 20 and 25 New York City residents died at home each day.
Following the report, the city announced it would be adding probable COVID-19 deaths that occurred at home to the official count.
Through this week, New York City had close to 11,000 total deaths from the coronavirus, while the country as a whole had nearly 28,600. Both local and state officials expressed hope the region would soon be hitting its peak of cases and the number of both cases and deaths would start to decline in the coming weeks.
The state has taken stringent measures to slow the spread of the virus, including issuing an executive order from Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday mandating that all residents wear masks or face coverings when in public.