NY will not include ‘probable’ coronavirus fatalities in death toll: Gov. Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that the state will continue to include only confirmed coronavirus fatalities and not “probable” ones in its contagion death toll — unlike New York City — because “they’re two different things.”

Cuomo — commenting on the topic of confirmed versus probable COVID-19 deaths at a press briefing in Murray Hill in Manhattan — said, “Now some places just put them together, they then get criticized — you can’t put them together. They’re two different categories.

“They’re two different answers, and they’re two different questions,” Cuomo told reporters, adding, “Probable is different from confirmed. Probable is ‘probable, but I have to check, I don’t know, I have to do further testing.’”

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the state has never listed the number of probable coronavirus deaths, although New York officials at one point said they would. Still, the state does note the number of “probable” virus death cases for nursing homes and adult-care facilities along with their confirmed COVID fatalities, just not for New York in general.

New York City started accounting for probable coronavirus deaths in its total COVID-19 death toll in April, and the latest city data shows that 4,753 probable cases make up the 21,086 fatality caseload.

“It’s how precise you want to be,” Cuomo said of lumping the categories together, adding, “People who want precision want them separate.”

Cuomo said the state has had “many cases” deemed “probable” that “turned out not to be coronavirus.

“There are a lot of scientists and experts who say, ‘Don’t put them together ‘cause they’re two different categories, they’re two different answers,’” the governor said.

State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said New York spoke to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently, “specifically asking them what’s going on in other states where some merge [confirmed and probable deaths] and some don’t.

“So just what the governor mentioned here is, we asked some confirmed, some presumed or probable deaths, and they said they need to figure out how to get that information out to the public as well,” Zucker said.

Additional reporting by Julia Marsh

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