The assertion of many on social media that some New York hospitals artificially inflated their death toll, has now made many international news headlines. There are even some in the conspiracy sphere who claim that the whole timing of the pandemic is such that it looks like it’s meant to unseat US President Trump.
That is probably too far fetched, even though there is valor in the claim that the pandemic’s timing only six months before a US Presidential election that looks to be a much closer call than the 2016 polls ever were, is indeed striking.
New York death toll
But back to New York. The claim revolves around a payment that hospitals are said to receive whenever they list someone as having died from Covid-19. In this case, the payment for the hospital, which in many cases is a private company, from the Federal Government is larger. As it is unclear for a patient with underlying medical conditions that died to determine whether Covid-19 or any of the other conditions he was suffering from unfortunately killed him, nurses and doctors are being blamed for listing too many cases as a Covid-19 death in order to receive a state check for their company.
The first instance on social media of this claim was made by antivirus and tech mogul John McAfee, who stated on Twitter that ‘NYC has a death rate 200 times higher than the world’s 10 largest citiees. Could it be that the U.S. pays hospitals $39,000 for every patient diagnosed with Covid19?’
At that moment, this site investigated it’s claim and compared it to the other mega cities on his list and linked an investigation by USA Today that concluded after their investigation that the claim that hospitals get paid more if patients are listed as COVID-19 and on ventilators as TRUE.
In fact, Mr McAfee reacted at that moment to a widely shared meme on Facebook that stated: “So, hospitals get an extra $13,000 if they diagnose a death as COVID-19. And an additional $39,000 if they use a ventilator!”
One post of the meme, shared by hundreds, was captioned: “And then we wonder why the numbers of deaths are embellished…”
The New York Times, in a story published this weekend, is now arguing that the claim of an inflated death toll is nothing but a conspiracy theory.
This is strange, as the conclusion of Factcheck (which also investigated the issue in late April in an article entitled Hospital Payments and the Covid-19 deaht count) uses an NYT story which states that New York City recently added more than 3,700 victims to its death toll to account for presumed cases. The CDC’s national count now makes note of how many cases and deaths were deemed “probable.
Thus, in one case the New York Times claims that the presumption of inflated death tolls is a conspiracy, whilst in another article they admit that of the first 10,000 deaths, some 3,700 cases were never even tested for Covid-19?
Strange mathematics we would call that.