These numbers contradict the notion that many people who are dying from the new virus would have died shortly anyway. And they suggest that the current coronavirus death figures understate the real toll of the virus, either because of undercounting of coronavirus deaths, increases in deaths that are normally preventable, or both…

“The extent of damage from the virus may be greater than we anticipated, and the indirect effects of the virus may be greater than we anticipated,” said Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist and professor at Yale Medical School, who is particularly concerned that patients with cardiac conditions are not seeking care because of the fear of being infected with coronavirus. “Meaning that the overall toll is much greater.”

The overall rise in deaths suggests that the combination of crowded hospitals, an overtaxed ambulance system and a fearful population could have resulted in more deaths among people with heart attacks, strokes or other ailments who might have survived in normal circumstances.