In his April 7 column (“View virus stats with a raised eyebrow”), Mr. Balentine suggests that we should view the statistics on deaths from COVID-19 with jaundiced eyes and that they are overstated.

He is right about the need to be skeptical, but only because there is persuasive evidence that U.S. deaths caused by COVID-19 are understated. Presumably, Mr. Balentine would acknowledge that total U.S. deaths from all causes are accurately reported.

The CDC mortality report for 2019 counted total deaths in the U.S. of 2,854,838. The 2020 CDC report records total deaths of 3,358,814, an increase of more than 500,000 from 2019. Reported COVID-19 deaths were only 345,323 in 2020, leaving an additional increase of 158,000 to be explained. Since suicides in 2020 plunged 6%, the explanation has to focus on causes such as increased deaths from heart attacks and strokes, for which COVID-19 is a significant risk factor.

The “fear and dread” that Mr. Balentine attributes to the COVID-19 death statistics would only increase if one drilled into the total deaths in 2020 and realized that deaths caused by COVID-19 are underreported.

Lowell D. Turnbull
Portland