DONALD Trump has accused New York City of exaggerating its coronavirus death toll by thousands of victims.
NYC’s official death toll from the killer bug soared on Tuesday after health bosses included 3,778 people who probably had Covid-19, but died without ever actually being tested.
At a White House press briefing Trump said: "I see this morning where New York added 3,000 deaths because they died.
"Rather than [from a] heart attack, they say the heart attack was caused by this [Covid-19]."
New York City's toll surged by 60 per cent to over 10,000 deaths after untested Covid-19 victims were added to the revised tally.
The new cumulative figure for “confirmed and probable Covid-19 deaths” was released by the New York City Health Department.
The president claimed that NYC had added new deaths to its official toll “just in case” the victims had died from the new virus.
He told reporters: “If you look at it, that is it.
"Everything we have is documented and reported great.
"What they [New York City] are doing is just in case — that is OK. We have more cases because we do more reporting.”
Trump's comments raised eyebrows in the Big Apple, particularly from the office of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
His spokesperson, Freddi Goldstein, said: “These were people with names, hobbies, lives.
"They leave behind grieving loved ones. They deserve to be recognized, not minimized."
Officials reported 3,778 probable deaths, where doctors were certain enough of the cause to list coronavirus on the death certificate, and 6,589 were confirmed by a lab test.
Combined, that made the total fatalities in NYC to soar to more than 10,000.
The change in the city's accounting of deaths came after officials acknowledged that statistics based only on laboratory-confirmed tests were failing to account for many people dying at home before they reached a hospital or even sought treatment.
During an interview with CNN, Mayor de Blasio said of the added deaths: "The fact is we have to be honest."
He said it was "smart and really fair" to victims' families to say that although "medical professionals at the time couldn't confirm it was Covid-19 because there wasn't time to do a test or they didn't have a test available, they thought that's what it was.
"This disease is ferocious and we should never take it lightly.
"So, we want it to be honest about the bigger picture we were seeing."
New York City will move toward coronavirus self-sufficiency by boosting local production of virus test kits, face shields and surgical gowns, Mayor de Blasio said Tuesday.
His stance has been defended by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
On Wednesday he said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had changed guidelines for how coronavirus deaths were to be recorded.
The governor told reporters: "They want deaths [CDC], and then another category of probable deaths."
It's up to local health departments or coroners to determine whether deaths were possibly attributed to Covid-19.
Gov Cuomo added that those dying away from hospitals or nursing homes may have been missed in previous coronavirus death counts.
State and city officials have stressed the need to greatly expand coronavirus testing before any relaxation of social distancing guidelines can be discussed.
New York residents must wear face coverings anytime they come into close contact with other people outside their homes, Gov. Cuomo also said on Wednesday.
The mandate will require a mask or face covering, like a bandanna, on busy streets, public transit, or any situation where people cannot maintain six feet of social distancing.
The order takes effect on Friday.
The US now has more than 644,000 coronavirus cases, and the death toll stands at 28,554.
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