Fox News anchor Bret Baier confronted CDC Director Rochelle Walensky Sunday over several topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including whether she could explain how many COVID deaths in the United States are "from COVID" versus "with COVID."
What is the background?
More than 836,000 Americans have died from COVID, but the government has yet to distinguish deaths from COVID and deaths with COVID. The key difference being: Did the person die from their COVID infection or did they die for another reason, but tested positive for COVID before they passed away?
In fact, the CDC explains that up to 95% — or perhaps even more — of all COVID deaths happened in Americans with co-morbidities or other conditions.
"There were co-morbidities or other conditions listed on the death certificate for as many as 95% of all COVID-19 deaths," the CDC explains. "The other 5% of death certificates in which COVID-19 was the only condition listed was likely related to a lack of detail listed about other conditions present at the time of death."
What happened Sunday?
During an interview on "Fox News Sunday," anchor Bret Baier confronted Walensky about whether she could explain how many Americans have died from COVID versus with COVID.
"How many of the 836,000 deaths in the U.S. linked to COVID are 'from COVID' or how many are 'with COVID,' but they had other co-morbidities? Do you have that breakdown?" Baier asked.
Walensky, however, failed to provide the breakdown.
"Yes, of course with Omicron we’re following that very carefully," Walensky said "Our death registry, of course, takes a few weeks to — and is a — takes a few weeks to collect, and of course, Omicron has just been with us for a few weeks, but those data will be forthcoming."
Later in the interview, Baier asked Walensky if her leadership has eroded the public's trust in the CDC, which she promised to repair when Joe Biden appointed her to lead the agency.
"Do you think that it's fair to say that the trust and confidence the public has gone down with the CDC?" Baier asked.
In response, Walenksy noted how "hard" her job has been.
"You know, this is hard," Walenksy said. "We have ever-evolving science with an ever-evolving variant and my job is to provide updated guidance in the context of rapidly rising cases. And that is what we've done and I'm here to explain it to the American people and I'm committed to continuing to do so and to continuing to improve."