Live Mic: What COVID death certificate really means; Utah doc explains

Sep 4, 2020, 5:24 PM
death certificate cdc thanksgiving...
The CDC in Atlanta. Photo: Shutterstock via CNN

SALT LAKE CITY — Corticosteroids — synthetic drugs used to treat different diseases like asthma or skin conditions — are proving to ease the suffering of severely sick COVID-19 patients, a new analysis finds. 

The analysis investigated seven trials of corticosteroids, finding when patients on ventilators were treated with steroids, they had a 30% chance of dying. This is compared to a 38% chance among patients who didn’t take steroids.

For patients treated without ventilators, the benefit was greater: Patients given steroids had a 23% chance of dying, compared with a 42% chance for people in a control group.

A Utah perspective

Dr. Marion Bishop, an ER doctor practicing in Logan and Brigham City, joined Lee Lonsberry on Live Mic Friday to discuss what administering corticosteroids means for coronavirus patients.

Bishop said corticosteroids are used to reduce inflammation, such as respiratory illnesses.

“With these severely ill COVID-19 patients, what exactly is inflamed that the steroids help reverse?” Lee asked.

“So what happens when someone get sick with an infection, is that you have a trauma that’s suffered by the infection itself — by the virus or the bacteria,” Bishop said. “In this case, you contract COVID-19 and it infects the lungs and heart and all kinds of places we’re learning about. But after that, the infection takes hold and causes a lot of inflammation.

“In the same way you can trip and fall and sprain your ankle, and a few minutes later, it’s grossly swollen. Most of that is from the inflammation that happens after the trauma.

“With COVID-19, we’ve been curious about that inflammatory process that happens in the lungs after the initial infection and will these steroids help it. These studies are saying, ‘Yeah, it will,'” Bishop said.

Masks really work

Lee noted a recent decline in Utah in COVID-19 hospitalizations. (The number of patients  hospitalized Friday in Utah for confirmed COVID-19 was 121.) He asked Bishop if she had observed the same in the hospitals where she works.

“A little bit. We were seeing more and more sick people coming out of the spring and into the summer through June and the start of July. And then some mask-wearing mandates were put in place,” Bishop said. “Plus, people got more comfortable wearing them and thinking it was a good idea. We’ve seen fewer cases in the hospital. The fewer patients that we see, the fewer that go on to need ICU care.” 

Lag time of virus cases

Bishop said people who were exposed to coronavirus on Memorial Day ended up in hospital and in the ICU at the first of June. 

“I think probably part of what you’re observing in those lower numbers in hospitals goes back to where we were a month ago and where we were a month behind that with the push to start mask wearing so the kids could go back to school,” she said. “Let’s make a few sacrifices for our kids.”

Bishop added that one month later, mask wearing resulted in a decline of hospitalizations in COVID-19 patients.

Death certificate

Bishop also explained the underlying conditions behind a coronavirus death certificate.

After President Donald Trump retweeted an article that inaccurately suggested the real number of COVID-19 deaths is 9,000, Dr. Anthony Fauci responded:

“It’s not 9,000 deaths from COVID-19. It’s 180,000-plus deaths,” Fauci told Good Morning America.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is being twisted by conspiracy theorists to imply the COVID-19 death toll is not as serious as is reported, health experts say.

Bishop said 95-100% of the death certificates that she’s filled out lists more than one cause of death, and that’s because the certificate is designed to tell a story. For example, a heart attack death may be caused by clogged arteries, which is caused by high cholesterol and exacerbated by high-blood pressure. 

“So you’re trying to tell a story of how all these different underlying illnesses led to the person finally dying of the one thing,” Bishop said. 

She said people who have these underlying conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, experience a more difficult time fighting off and recovering from COVID-19.  

“They’re more susceptible to it, and it beats them up a lot more,” Bishop said.

She also added the COVID-19 causes other medical complications such as pneumonia and heart and respiratory failure. 

“A COVID death certificate may say something like this: death caused by respiratory failure, caused by pneumonia, caused by pulmonary-inflammatory issues, caused by COVID,” she said. 


Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

Today’s Top Stories


A southern Utah teenager died over the weekend at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Kanab after t...
Mark Jones

Southern Utah teenager dies in digging accident state park in Kanab

A southern Utah teenager was killed Saturday at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park when the sand dune he was digging in collapsed on top of him.
18 hours ago
crews work to contain the left fork fire...
Samantha Herrera

Left Fork fire management left to local units

The Left Fork fire in Dixie National Park had crews working to contain it for days. Crews faced red flag fire warnings during their efforts.
18 hours ago
children at work Utah...
Curt Gresseth

In some instances, children as young as age 10 can work in Utah

Children as young as 10 are legally allowed to work in Utah. A spokesman for the Utah Labor Commission shares the rules for child workers in the state.
18 hours ago
SLCPD police car. Its SWAT team responded to a situation today....
Samantha Herrera

Man found dead from self-inflicted wound following SWAT situation

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Police Department’s SWAT Team discovered a suspect dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound following a reported sexual assault. The area surrounding a Salt Lake home was locked down by the SLCPD for a period on Monday afternoon as the SWAT team investigated. There is a large police […]
18 hours ago
The Vivint Arena...
Chandler Holt

Kendrick Lamar, Carrie Underwood, Gorillaz all coming to Utah

Three famous artists will be making stops in Utah on their 2022 tours. All three will be performing at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City.
18 hours ago
A black bear on a school field....
Amie Schaeffer

Black bear captured in Morgan County

A black bear wandered the streets in Morgan County. After startling residents, the bear was captured, sedated and relocated to a safer place.
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.

Tax Tuesday: Key Information Before the Filing Deadline

Businesses can receive a credit of up to $5,000 per employee in 2020 and up to $21,000 per employee in 2021.
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Live Mic: What COVID death certificate really means; Utah doc explains