“With” vs. “Of”

Rarely do I ever argue outright with a specialist or a surgeon.  The reason is simply, that they usually know more about the given problem for which I have consulted them than I do.  For instance, I’m not an epidemiologist and would by habit defer to them on questions of pandemics.

And then I read “The federal government is classifying the deaths of patients infected with the coronavirus as COVID-19 deaths, regardless of any underlying health issues…”  White House expert and daily celebrated press briefer Dr. Deborah Birx said, “Some countries are recording that as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death.

The intent is … if someone dies with COVID-19 we are counting that.”  

“Asked whether the numbers could skew data the government is trying to collect, Birx said that would mostly apply more to rural areas where testing isn’t being implemented on a wide scale.”

We do not know truly how many are infected, or have been, and therefore have no good handle on the mortality rate.  This seems contrary to everything we learned in medical school.  When we fill out death certificates, we are supposed to write the actual cause of death, followed by contributors.  It makes sense to determine that a COPD patient fitting the clinical course was killed by COVID-19.  But was the chain smoker who presented with chest pain and died of his fourth MI, subsequently found to have been COVID-19 infected, necessarily killed by the virus?  Isn’t that relevant when these numbers are being used to impact the daily lives and futures of hundreds of millions? 

Perish the thought that I would be skeptical of non-stop policy edicts handed down by well-meaning bureaucrats, but I’m not sure this is how it is supposed to work.  Dying WITH something is not necessarily the same as dying OF something, and I don’t recall this being done for H1N1, or the yearly flu waves.  And let me quickly add that I get that this virus seems nastier and more virulent than many others, lest I be burned as a heretic by those of you already reaching for the lighter fluid just because I’m wondering this out loud.  If I’m missing something, please, someone make sense of this.  If I’m right, then why is this being done?

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