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The CDC did not reduce the US coronavirus death count

May 4, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its website to reduce the coronavirus death count from 64,283 to 37,308.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Social media users are citing numbers from a page on the CDC website that provides provisional death count numbers for the coronavirus. The page clearly states that the National Vital Statistics Systems data shown may be incomplete. 

THE FACTS: Social media users are again questioning numbers around coronavirus cases in the U.S., suggesting the CDC inflated the number of coronavirus deaths to make the virus appear worse than it seems.


The posts were shared widely on Twitter and Facebook over the weekend and into Monday. 

“Biggest hoax in modern history,” stated one Facebook post Monday, highlighting the lower provisional figures.  

“Updated CDC website May 1: drops total US COVID19 death rate from 64,283 to 37,308,” another post on Facebook said. “28,295 died of something else.”

The false posts linked to the Provisional Death Counts for Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) page on the CDC website. The information clearly explains that death counts are delayed and may be different from other sources. 

“COVID-19 death counts shown here may differ from other published sources, as data currently are lagged by an average of 1–2 weeks,” the page states. 

Figures on the CDC website on Monday put the total number of deaths from COVID-19 at 65,735, as of May 3. 

The provisional numbers shared by social media users on Saturday showed the death count between Feb. 1 to April 25. The provisional numbers site was updated Monday with figures until May 4 to show 38,576 deaths.


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: