(CNSNews.com) - In the week that ended on June 27, there were 1,363 deaths in the United States involving COVID-19, which was a 91.9 percent drop from the peak of 16,895 COVID-involved deaths reported for the week that ended on April 18, according to the provisional COVID-19 death counts published by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The numbers updated by NCHS on July 13 show the weekly COVID-involved death count, based on death certificates, has been steadily dropping since the mid-April peak, even as the number of cases is rising, especially in Sunbelt states of Florida, Texas, Arizona and California.
The NCHS reports COVID-involved deaths weekly, updating the numbers as more death certificates come in. Based on the July 13 data, COVID deaths for the week ending June 27 (1,363) dropped 50.1 percent from the 2,733 posted for the prior week of June 20.
"Provisional death counts deliver the most complete and accurate picture of lives lost to COVID-19," says NCHS. However, provisional counts are not final and are subject to change. Counts from previous weeks are continually revised as more records are received and processed.
CDC notes that when a person dies, the cause of death is determined by the physician, medical examiner, or coroner who reports it on the death certificate. States register all death certificates and send them to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, where they are used to produce the nation’s official death statistics.
"Provisional death counts may not match counts from other sources, such as media reports or numbers from county health departments, which "use different definitions or methods for counting deaths," says NCHS. "Counts by NCHS often track 1-2 weeks behind other data."
June 27 is the most recent week to fall within that two-weeks-ago reporting period.
Preliminary data for the weeks ending July 4 (469 COVID deaths reported) and July 11 (137 COVID deaths reported) show the downward death count continues, even if those preliminary numbers will increase in the weeks ahead.
CDC explains the lag time this way:
-- Death certificates take time to be completed. Waiting for test results can create additional delays.
--States report at different rates. Currently, 63% of all U.S. deaths are reported within 10 days of the date of death, but there is significant variation between states.
--It takes extra time to code COVID-19 deaths. While 80% of deaths are electronically processed and coded by NCHS within minutes, most deaths from COVID-19 must be coded by a person, which takes an average of 7 days.
The first reported death from the virus was recorded in the week ending February 8. Since then, CDC attributes 120,350 deaths in this country to COVID-19, which has its own ICD-10 code. Deaths with confirmed or presumed COVID-19 are listed as ICD–10 code U07.1