Covid Live Updates: As U.S. Death Toll Nears 600,000, the Counting Is Complicated

Health care professionals screened people entering the emergency room at Highland Hospital in Oakland, Calif., last year.
Credit…Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The United States is poised to reach a once-unthinkable number of 600,000 Covid-19 deaths. And had it not been for the removal of hundreds of deaths from official tallies in Northern California, the country would have surpassed the mark already.

More than 1,600 deaths had been tied to the coronavirus in Alameda County, Calif., which includes Oakland, when June began. But by this week, the county had reported fewer than 1,300 deaths linked to the virus.

The sudden drop had to do with longstanding questions about which deaths count as coronavirus deaths and which do not. Health departments routinely add…

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