Dr. Deborah Birx said at the briefing last night that anyone who tested positive for COVID-19, regardless of any other underlying condition, is being counted as a COVID-19 death:

Video here:

We get that this is a complicated business, for example:

And it’s the nature of the disease that it attacks those with an underlying condition:

But if we’re going to use this number as the metric to keep the economy shut down or not, yeah, it’s going to get questioned:

President Trump shut down the country for any additional 30 days and displayed charts showing 100,000-200,000 deaths just last week and now this?

On the other hand, there was a report in Gothamist suggesting that NYC is potentially undercounting COVID-19 deaths:

In summary, there’s been a 400% increase over last year of deaths at home. These are people who were not confirmed COVID-19 positive before death and since they’re not tested after death, they’re not included in COVID-19 totals:

But we’re in the middle of the crisis and it’s difficult to figure out exactly what’s going on. There’s anecdotal evidence that people suffering from heart attacks and strokes aren’t seeking care right now, which could be why there’s been an increase of deaths at home:

With that said, New York City is now going to try to estimate those who’ve died of COVID-19, but were not tested for it beforehand. From Gothamist:

New York City officials will begin to count suspected COVID-19 deaths of people who die at home following a WNYC/Gothamist report revealing a staggering number of such deaths that were not included in the official tally.

In a statement, Stephanie Buhle, a spokeswoman for the New York City’s Health Department, said the city would no longer report only those cases that were confirmed by a laboratory test.

“The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) and the NYC Health Department are working together to include into their reports deaths that may be linked to COVID but not lab confirmed that occur at home,” she said.

She didn’t say when the city would begin reporting suspected deaths along with the overall count. But the new protocol is likely to add thousands to the toll.

It’s messy. And going to get messier.