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Death toll soars after New York City counts ‘probable’ fatalities

NEW YORK (AP) — The official death toll from the coronavirus soared in New York City on Tuesday after officials began including people who probably had COVID-19, but died without ever being tested.

City officials reported 3,778 “probable” deaths, where doctors were certain enough of the cause of death to list it on the death certificate, and 6,589 confirmed by a lab test. Combined, that would put the total fatalities in the city over 10,000.

MAP: Watch the real time-spread of coronavirus in the U.S.

The change in the city’s accounting of fatalities came after officials acknowledged that statistics based only on laboratory-confirmed tests were failing to account for many people dying at home before they ever reached a hospital.

“Behind every death is a friend, a family member, a loved one. We are focused on ensuring that every New Yorker who died because of COVID-19 gets counted,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “While these data reflect the tragic impact that the virus has had on our city, they will also help us to determine the scale and scope of the epidemic and guide us in our decisions.”

New Yorkers with COVID-19 continue to die at an unnerving pace even as the number of patients in hospitals level off.

State officials earlier in the day said 778 deaths were recorded statewide Monday, bringing the statewide total to more than 10,800. That figure, though, did not factor in the probable deaths now being counted in New York City.

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