Fact Check By: Saranac Hale Spencer from FactCheck.org, Newswise
“I saw a statistic come out the other day, talking about only 6% of the people actually died from COVID, which is a very interest[ing], that they died for — from other reasons.” - Pres. TrumpClaim Publisher and Date: Fox News and Facebook on 2020-09-01
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t drastically reduced the number of deaths attributable to COVID-19, but posts making that bogus claim have been circulating widely — with the help of President Donald Trump, who retweeted one such claim on Aug. 30.
Twitter has since removed the original tweet, which came from an account dedicated to the pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon. But the claim is still readily available on all the major social media platforms. In fact, the same QAnon account that posted the now-deleted tweet includes a screenshot version featuring the president’s retweet.
The post Trump highlighted said: “This week the CDC quietly updated the Covid number to admit that only 6% of all the 153,504 deaths recorded actually died from Covid. That’s 9,210 deaths. The other 94% had 2 to 3 other serious illnesses and the overwhelming majority were of very advanced age.”
But that’s not what the CDC information says.
In weekly updates provided on the CDC’s website, the agency includes information on additional conditions present in patients who died with COVID-19. These other illnesses or conditions found to be present in a patient are called comorbidities. The agency also includes a chart detailing the number of patients with each additional condition.
For the week referenced in the claim, the CDC explained that the chart “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.”
That means that 6% of those who died with COVID-19 through Aug. 15 didn’t have any other reported conditions.
It does not mean that the CDC has “quietly updated” the number of deaths associated with COVID-19 to a fraction of what had been reported. It’s also not new information; the agency has been providing the same information since May.