Senators ask HHS, CDC about ‘highly alarming’ excess Covid-19 deaths

Three Democratic US senators have asked the US Health and Human Services Secretary and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director to explain what they’re doing to investigate a “highly alarming” excess of deaths in the United States, above and beyond the more than 200,000 fatalities directly attributed to Covid-19.

“Newly released CDC data reveal that ‘an estimated 299,028 excess deaths occurred from late January through October 3, 2020, with 198,081 (66%) excess deaths attributed to Covid-19.’ These are highly alarming data, revealing that, in addition to the horrific toll known from Covid-19 in the United States, over 100,000 more fatalities may have been directly or indirectly associated with the pandemic,” Senators Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin and Tina Smith wrote.

“This new accounting of excess fatalities is particularly disturbing because it comes as President Trump continues to downplay the toll of the pandemic with a series of blustering falsehoods about the about the disease “affect[ing] virtually nobody” as he attempts to distract the nation from his failed response to the pandemic.”

Some of the gaps can be explained by weaknesses in data collection, they wrote in the letter, addressed to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield. But they also point to gaps in care.

“Throughout the public health emergency, President Trump has repeatedly lied to the American people in an effort to downplay the severity of the pandemic, including by falsely repeating that the Covid-19 pandemic has been more deadly in Europe than in the United States,” they wrote.

“Regardless of the President’s ignorance, his shamelessness, or his serial falsehoods, HHS and CDC have a duty to safeguard the public health and should be taking steps to more fully understand the excess mortality rate and curb rising mortality caused directly or associated with Covid-19. “

They asked HHS and the CDC to answer questions including what specific data CDC and HHS are collecting on the excess mortality rate in the United States since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and what the agencies understand to be the reasons for the excess mortality rate.

“Please provide a summary of all detailed data available on the excess mortality rate in 2020, including any unpublished information on the excess mortality rate over time, the excess mortality rate by location, the excess mortality rate by age, race and ethnicity, the excess mortality rate among individuals with preexisting conditions, and the specific causes of the excess mortality rate,” they added.