According to the John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, the United States has now surpassed 350,000 COVID-19 deaths. The bleak milestone met with criticism from President Donald Trump who wrote in a tweet that cases and deaths are “far exaggerated in the United States” because of the Center for Disease Control’s “ridiculous method of determination compared to other countries.”  

Trump’s central claim is that COVID-19 deaths in the United States are overcounted because deaths unrelated to COVID-19 are artificially increasing the count, but he cites no evidence of a concerted effort to boost COVID-19 case numbers.

CDC scientists believe, actually, that United States COVID-19 deaths are undercounted. In addition to undiagnosed cases, CDC data scientist Lauren Rossen explained that “Indirect Deaths” account for many deaths in a pandemic. “An example of this is when someone dies of a heart attack or stroke because they were afraid to go to the hospital, or if changes in people’s circumstances lead to increases in suicide or drug overdose,” Rossen said. “We don’t know what’s really happening until we look at the bigger picture.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci grimly told ABC News in response to Trump’s claims that “there is no running away from the numbers. All you need to do is to go out into the trenches, go to the hospitals, see what the health care workers are dealing with. They are under very stressed situations in many areas of the country, the hospital beds are stretched. People are running out of beds, running out of trained personnel who are exhausted right now.” 

Despite Trump’s claims that the United States case counts are exaggerated by the Center for Disease Control, international groups like the World Health Organization produce very similar numbers of United States cases.

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