No, the CDC did not drop its COVID-19 death count to 37,000. In fact, it didn't 'revise' it at all.

I'm losing count of how many times in the past few days I've seen someone post something along the lines of this tweet:

"The CDC has actually ADMITTED that they overcounted COVID-19 deaths!"

"Look at the numbers—they're right there on the CDC website plain as day!"

"See, it's all overblown! We did this whole shutdown thing and tanked the economy for nothing!"

First of all, no, the CDC did not revise anything. Let's dive into these numbers because they actually are a bit confusing when you don't read the whole page (and frankly, some parts are a little confusing even if you do—get it together, CDC).


There are different methods of counting COVID-19 deaths, and the CDC's website includes numbers for two very different methods. We have:

1) The official CDC death count, which you can find on the CDC's home page. This count comes directly from public health departments in each state and territory daily. As of the writing of this article, that count stands at 68,279.

2) The Provisional Death Count, which is where that ~37,000 number comes from. This count comes from the National Vital Statistics System—the system that processes and logs death certificates. The notable thing about the Provisional Death Count is that it's not up-to-date. The CDC site itself states that the numbers on the Provisional Death chart lag weeks behind other counts:

"It is important to note that it can take several weeks for death records to be submitted to National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), processed, coded, and tabulated. Therefore, the data shown on this page may be incomplete, and will likely not include all deaths that occurred during a given time period, especially for the more recent time periods. Death counts for earlier weeks are continually revised and may increase or decrease as new and updated death certificate data are received from the states by NCHS. COVID-19 death counts shown here may differ from other published sources, as data currently are lagged by an average of 1–2 weeks."

Here's a real-world example of what this looks like:

This is a screenshot of the Provisional Death Count as of April 16, 2020 (which you can access at this CDC link). As you can see, the COVID death count for the week of 4/11/20 was 3,542.

And here is the Provisional Death Count as of the writing of this article, which you can view in real time at this CDC link. As you can see, the week of 4/11/20 has been updated from 3,542 deaths to 12,628—a nearly four-fold increase since the April 16 publication.

When the numbers were published on 4/16/20, there were still 9,086 death certificates that hadn't been processed yet from the week prior—that's what they mean by a lag. Three weeks later, the numbers are very different.

So that 37,000 total (well, 39,000 right now) will change as the death certificates get processed. The Provisional Death Count simply isn't accurate yet. And the lag means it will never be an up-to-date count, so it's not a reliable source for current death numbers.

The problem is that people have been sharing the not-up-to-date Provisional Death Count link as a way to make it sound like the COVID-19 death numbers are actually smaller. They are not.

It's worth noting that all COVID-19 death counts include both lab-confirmed and "presumed" COVID-19 deaths. This has also been a source of confusion, not to mention conspiracy. But "presumed" doesn't mean just a wild guess.

Test results for coronavirus have a high false negative rate—from 5% to 30%—according to Dr. Alan Wells, professor of pathology at University of Pittsburgh. So relying solely on positive lab test results for COVID deaths would miss thousands. At this point, doctors and medical examiners can generally recognize clear COVID symptoms in a critically ill or deceased patient, and if a patient meets the clinical, epidemiological, or vital records criteria for the COVID being the cause of death, that's considered "presumed."

Each state has different requirements for coding COVID-19 deaths, and it's generally a very small percentage that are counted as "presumed."

Adding to the confusion on this front, Dr. Birx, from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said that the U.S. was taking a "liberal" approach to counting COVID-19 deaths, and ""The intent is, right now, that . . . if someone dies with COVID-19, we are counting that as a COVID-19 death."

People unfortunately did not take that statement in the context of underlying conditions, which is what Dr. Birx was talking about. Here's what she actually said:

"There are other countries that if you had a pre-existing condition and let's say the virus caused you to go to the ICU and then have a heart or kidney problem -- some countries are recording that as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death. Right now ... if someone dies with COVID-19 we are counting that as a COVID-19 death."

If a person has a heart condition and they get sick with COVID-19 and die, COVID is counted as a cause of their death, even if they died of a heart attack—the reasonable assumption being that the disease led the patient's weakened heart to give in. Dr. Birx did not mean that a gunshot victim or a fatal car accident victim would be certified as a COVID-19 death just because they tested positive for the disease. That would be silly, not to mention illegal.

Read more on how COVID-19 deaths are counted from a forensic pathologist here.

You can also see an email from the Louisiana Health Department specifying how doctors are to log coronavirus deaths here:

So, no, COVID-19 death counts have not been revised downward, nor are they artificially inflated. In fact, it's more likely that they've been undercounted than overcounted, since only deaths that had been confirmed by tests were being counted for at least the first month of the outbreak in the U.S.

More importantly, read the fine print on a website before you make any assumptions about what you're seeing. Health data tracking can be a confusing to dive into under normal circumstances, much less during a novel virus pandemic where we're all learning as we go.

Pexels
True
Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.