Report: 40% of U.S. COVID deaths could have been avoided

As the pandemic rages on a new report claiming a significant number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. could have been avoided.

The alarming information is published in a new study in the Lancet Commission on Public Policy and Health.

"40% of COVID deaths last year could have been averted," said Hunter College Professor Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, who co-chairs the Commission. "Of the 400,000 deaths, 160,000 could have been avoided."

Woolhandler faults the Trump administration for some policy decisions made before the pandemic hit and for how former President Donald Trump handled the crisis. 

"He mocked people who put on masks he mocked social distancing which reduces transmission," Woolhandler said.

In the study, she and other researchers compared the U.S. COVID death rates to other wealthy countries.

"Very simple things that people in other nations were told to do and mostly did that kept those numbers down prevented transmission gave them much lower death rates," she said.

Get breaking news alerts in the FOX5NY News app. Download for FREE!

The pandemic also exposed health care inequalities among the rich and poor, a problem Woolhandler says that's been growing under the last several administrations.

"The health of the American people had been lagging for about four decades in 1980 the average American lived just as long as the average person in other wealthy nations but by 2018 our life expectancy was lagging further and further behind to where the average person was living three years shorter than people in other wealthy nations," Woolhandler said.

Woolhandler said that she would like to see lawmakers ensure more Americans have access to health care, the kind of policy changes she thinks would create better health for Americans for years to come.