Report: Louisiana's 'excess deaths' during coronavirus might show how much deadlier the virus is


Published by NOLA.COM

Summary generated on August 10, 2020


    Day after day Louisiana has tracked the official death toll from COVID-19, but a new analysis by the New York Times seeks to better assess the the disease's impact by measuring the deaths that may have been caused by the coronavirus pandemic in general.

    The report sheds more light on "Excess deaths" by taking the number of total deaths from all causes reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between March 15 and July 18 and comparing it to the number of deaths during that same time period in previous years.

    State by state, it subtracts the number of confirmed coronavirus deaths from the total number of excess deaths during this period to present a picture of how many additional lives may be being claimed by the upheaval the pandemic has wrought.

    In Louisiana, for example, there were 4,900 excess deaths from March 15 to July 18 and 3,508 were directly from COVID-19, leaving roughly 1,400 additional deaths unexplained.

    It also said the state's death count during this period was 32% above normal.

    Many epidemiologists believe measuring excess deaths is the best way to assess the impact of the virus in real time, the NYT reports, because it can show how the virus is altering normal patterns of mortality.

    The Times-Picayune and The Advocate have examined the phenomenon of excess deaths locally on a couple of occasions.

    While measuring excess deaths does not give a precise reason why each person died, the NYT surmises that most of the excess deaths are due to the coronavirus itself.

    It is also possible that deaths from other causes have risen due to the strain on hospitals in some hot spots forcing delays in some treatments and possibly scaring people away from seeking care for ailments that are typically survivable.

    You can read the NYT's full report and data set here.