HHS Will Stop Counting COVID Deaths on Feb. 2, According to New Guidance for Hospitals

Shawn Thew/Pool via AP

At this point, it’s clear there’s a difference between hospitalization with COVID-19 and for COVID-19. Now take the next logical step; there is also a difference between dying with COVID and dying from COVID. How many people listed as dying of COVID were receiving treatment for another illness and only tested positive? Apparently, that is a conversation the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) does not want to have.


In an astonishing move, HHS notified hospitals they are no longer required to report COVID deaths beginning Feb. 2, 2022. Currently, the only required reporting of COVID deaths is the count from the previous day. That information is now on the list of inactive fields in an update sent to hospitals and acute care facilities on Jan. 6. On page 27 of the update, under “Data Elements Made Inactive for the Federal Data Collection,” item 16, “Previous Days Covid Deaths,” is listed.

In Spring 2021, the CDC started carefully separating deaths from COVID from those where the deceased tested positive but died of something else. The agency was invested in promoting vaccines, and the number of breakthrough infections and deaths was low. So, the CDC investigated each death carefully and applied a different standard than it did to the rest of the reporting. Since the beginning of the pandemic, if there was a positive COVID test and the patient died, it was listed as a COVID death. With vaccine breakthrough deaths, the CDC distinguished between deaths with the virus and deaths from the virus.

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Several studies suggest the current total death count wildly overestimates deaths from the virus and includes many people who only tested positive. A retrospective study in three large New Jersey hospitals in Nov. 2020 demonstrated that 89% of people who died with COVID had a do-not-resuscitate order in place before their COVID diagnosis. That means these patients were suffering from a terminal condition before receiving a positive COVID test. A review of reported COVID deaths in Minnesota found nearly 40% of deaths recorded were not attributable to COVID. Santa Clara and Alameda County in California distinguished those patients who died due to the illness progression of COVID and those who tested positive at the time of death but were asymptomatic. This exercise reduced the number of COVID-19 deaths in both counties by nearly 25%.


The agency still requires hospitals to report all laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID. Yet, it is not asking them to differentiate between those admitted for COVID symptoms and those who received a positive test after seeking treatment for something else. It also asks hospitals to report the daily number of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases, but not patients who test positive for both the flu and COVID. Keep in mind that all hospital admissions get tested for COVID. Unless labs use a combination test for flu and COVID, COVID will get picked up first, inflating the numbers.

Because omicron is so transmissible, the number of hospitalizations attributed to COVID started to rise as the variant became dominant. No other country where omicron became dominant saw a significant uptick in hospitalizations caused by COVID. In fact, early feedback from South African health experts was that hospitalizations with the new variant were rare. Generally, people were mildly ill and recovered at home. It finally reached the point where Dr. Fauci and others had to clarify that many COVID patients got admitted for other reasons. COVID only got reported because of mandatory testing in hospitals.

Doctors and hospitals corroborated this assessment. According to Dr. Jeanne Noble, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of California San Francisco, on Jan. 4, 70% of COVID-positive inpatients were hospitalized for something other than the virus. In New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul ordered hospitals to add specificity to their reporting about which COVID patients only got discovered through compulsory testing. The results showed that more than 40% of COVID patients listed statewide received treatment for another illness, not the coronavirus.


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It also appears the agency is not concerned with staffing shortages in the near term; it also eliminated item 23, “Critical Staffing Shortage Today,” and changed it to a weekly forecast. It made this change amid reports that hospitals in California and other states ask COVID-positive healthcare staff without symptoms to report to work, due to staffing shortages. The new requirements also eliminate reporting on the number of hospital beds. Perhaps this is because people like Phil Kerpen show how many beds we are losing, often due to a lack of staff, tied directly to the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate policy.

For some time, public health experts have encouraged the CDC and federal public health leaders to focus on hospitalizations and deaths from the virus when they make public health recommendations. To do this, the agency would require accurate numbers, but glaring inaccuracies have been evident to those following the data since the spring of 2020. Now they are becoming known generally.


Yet, we will get obfuscation and inflation from HHS rather than transparency. Instead of correcting the data collection parameters on deaths and ordering a review of the ones previously reported, HHS is just eliminating the metric. Instead of following New York’s lead and concentrating on patients hospitalized with symptoms of COVID, the agency will continue to count anyone with a positive antigen or PCR test. In fact, the HHS guidance notes on page 44 that some hospitals do serial testing throughout the admission.

It’s a disgrace that, in the nation that gave birth to Big Tech, HHS could not launch an appropriately anonymized data collection system with the correct parameters to monitor critical pandemic-related information. Instead, the federal bureaucracies made recommendations for a nation of 340 million people based on the number of positive tests. They never had a handle on the number of symptomatic cases, let alone hospitalizations and deaths related directly to COVID. But they recommended businesses shut down, schools close, masks be worn in perpetuity, and the Fauci Ouchie for your five-year-old anyway. All while telling you to listen to The Science.


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