Background: Severe acute respiratory syndrome MESHD coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is often comorbid with conditions subject to quality metrics (QM) used for hospital performance SERO assessment and rate-setting. Although diagnostic coding change in response to financial incentives is well documented, no study has examined the association of QM with SARS-CoV-2 cause-of- death MESHD attribution (CODA). Calculations of excess all-cause deaths MESHD overlook the importance of accurate CODA and of distinguishing policy-related from virus-related mortality. Objective: Examine CODA, overall and for QM and non-QM diagnoses, in 3 pandemic periods: awareness (January 19-March 14), height (March 15-May 16), and late (May 17-June 20). Methods: Retrospective analysis of publicly available national weekly COD data, adjusted for population growth and reporting lags, October 2014-June 20, 2020. CODA in 5 pre-pandemic influenza seasons was compared with 2019-20. Suitability of the data to distinguish policy-related from virus-related effects was assessed. Results: Following federal guidance permitting SARS-CoV-2 CODA without laboratory testing, mortality from the QM diagnoses cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease MESHD declined steadily relative to prior-season means, reaching 4.4% less and 12.1% less, respectively, in late pandemic. Deaths MESHD for non-QM diagnoses increased, by 21.0% for Alzheimers disease MESHD Alzheimers disease HP and 29.0% for diabetes during pandemic height. Increases in competing CODs over historical experience, suggesting SARS-CoV-2 underreporting, more than offset declines during pandemic height. However, in the late-pandemic period, declines slightly numerically exceeded increases, suggesting SARS-CoV-2 overreporting. In pandemic-height and late-pandemic periods, respectively, only 83.5% and 69.7% of increases in all-cause deaths MESHD were explained by changes in the reported CODs, including SARS-CoV-2, preventing assessment of policy-related mortality or of factors contributing to increased all-cause deaths MESHD. Conclusions: Substitution of SARS-CoV-2 for competing CODs may have occurred, particularly for QM diagnoses and late in the pandemic. Continued monitoring of these trends, qualitative research on pandemic CODA, and the addition of place-of- death MESHD data and psychiatric CODs to the file would facilitate assessment of policy-related and virus-related effects on mortality.