A routine report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is being twisted like a pretzel by people who are desperate to declare this pandemic a hoax.

Over the course of this COVID-19 pandemic, medical opinions have constantly evolved. One thing that has remained constant is that the community of gifted and experienced doctors and scientists who specialize in infectious disease know the fatal effects of the disease are generally felt by those who have underlying or pre-existing conditions.

The CDC’s report says 94% of those who have died in the United States of COVID-19 also had something else.

This changes nothing about the severity of the disease. We’ve known this all along; this is not new information.

Those who have died, the CDC said, have had an average of more than two other conditions. But that doesn’t mean their death isn’t or shouldn’t be attributable to COVID-19.

Most Americans battle these pre-existing conditions every day. Research by the Department of Health and Human Services said as many as 1 in 2 Americans suffer from a pre-existing condition. Most of these pre-existing conditions are chronic, meaning people have them and have them for a long time.

Here are some of the underlying conditions the CDC outlined as patients who have died from COVID-19 as also having: influenza and pneumonia; respiratory failure; hypertensive disease; diabetes; vascular and unspecified dementia; cardiac arrest; heart failure; and renal failure.

Many of these conditions are conditions people live with for years.

To construe this report as suggesting only 6% of deaths reported to be from COVID-19 were deaths actually caused by COVID-19 is a dangerous, and completely false, interpretation of the data.

COVID-19 will easily be one of America’s top causes of death this year. Just because a person who died also had diabetes, or high blood pressure, or a lung defect, doesn’t mean their death “doesn’t count.”

These are people who may have lived additional months and years had they not come down with COVID-19. Yes, their underlying conditions made them more susceptible to the disease’s fatal effects. But because of COVID-19, their deaths came more premature than they would have otherwise. They are COVID-19 deaths.

And let us not forget, these are people. COVID-19 has taken precious moments away from so many families. What has happened to empathy and compassion for others?

Here’s what the numbers are saying: We need to do what we can to protect those with underlying conditions, because them coming down with COVID-19 means they are more likely to suffer a fatal fate.

We do that by wearing masks outside of our homes, by social distancing, by limiting trips, and by being especially cautious if we are around those who fit the vulnerable and at-risk categories for this disease.

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