President Trump suggested Wednesday that New York City is artificially inflating its coronavirus death toll, after a revised count added more than 3,700 fatalities to the city's tally. His accusation drew disgust from the mayor's office — which reminded the president that he's talking about human beings with grieving families — and bewilderment from New York's governor.
"I see this morning where New York added 3,000 deaths because they died," Mr. Trump said during his White House press conference, rounding down the number of new deaths. "Rather than heart attack, they say heart attack caused by this."
"If you look at it, that is it," he added. "Everything we have is documented and reported great. What they are doing is just in case — that is OK. We have more cases because we do more reporting."
A spokeswoman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the allegation insulted the lives lost.
"These were people with names, hobbies, lives," the statement from the mayor's office said. "They leave behind grieving loved ones. They deserve to be recognized, not minimized."
New York Governor Andrew Como said Thursday he couldn't understand why anyone would even want to pad a death toll.
"That doesn't make a lot of sense," Cuomo said when asked about it at his daily press conference. "It's bad enough as it is, it's painful enough as it is. Why would you want to inflate a death toll? Look, I don't know, but it sounds even more bizarre than usual that anyone would want to do that."
New York City on Tuesday reported a coronavirus death toll total topping 10,000 people after adding an additional category for who is counted. The city reported the deaths of 3,778 people who were never tested or hospitalized for the virus, but whose death appeared to be due to COVID-19 symptoms. The death certificates for these victims list the cause of death as "COVID-19 or an equivalent."
The city said it added this category to account for thousands of people who died at home before they could be tested. This is in line with CDC guidance that says COVID-19 can be listed as a probable or presumed cause of death if a person's infection was not officially confirmed but "the circumstances are compelling within a reasonable degree of certainty." Cuomo mentioned this guidance when asked about Mr. Trump's comments.
New York City was already the nation's epicenter for the epidemic, and under the new death toll, it now accounts for nearly a third of the 31,000 deaths reported nationwide. New York state's death toll is 14,073, by far the highest of any state.