Issues & Insights

Just How Exaggerated Is The COVID-19 Death Count?

I&I Editorial

As the “official” tally of COVID-19 deaths tops 100,000 in the U.S., we keep hearing how that number is likely a low-ball estimate. But there’s far more evidence that the death count has been knowingly exaggerated – possibly by a very wide margin.

A recent Seattle Times article pretty much lays out the charade going on.

The headline reads: “Washington state’s actual coronavirus death toll may be higher than current tallies, health officials say.”

But the story itself leads one to the exact opposite conclusion.

Well down in the article, the reporter reveals that:

“The rapid onslaught of this coronavirus forced officials to part from their normal process of counting deaths. … Their goal was to get the data out as quickly as possible, ‘in near-real time so immediate decisions could be made to protect the health of Washingtonians.’”

The story goes on to say that the state’s dashboard “reflects anyone who died, that tested positive for COVID, irrespective of cause of death.” (Emphasis added.)

Basically, the state has been matching up the names of those who died this year with a database containing names of people who tested positive for COVID-19.

A review of the data by the Olympia-based Freedom Foundation found that of all the deaths attributed to the virus, 5% didn’t list COVID-19 as the cause of death on their death certificates. Another 13% involved people who had at one time tested positive for the disease, but the virus wasn’t “listed on death certificates as either causing or contributing to death.” Five of the state’s “coronavirus deaths” actually died from gunshot wounds.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s reaction to the Freedom Foundation report was to accuse the group of trafficking in conspiracy theories “from the planet Pluto.”

The Freedom Foundation findings came after Colorado’s public health department was forced to admit that nearly a quarter of those listed as dying from COVID-19 didn’t have the disease listed on their death certificates.

“The death figure CDPHE has been providing for weeks is more accurately described as the number of people with COVID-19 who have died – for any reason,” noted the Colorado Sun.

To its credit, Colorado now tracks two numbers: the broader count of people who died and had tested positive for COVID-19 (currently 1,352), and those whose deaths were “due to” the virus, which is 18% lower at 1,114.

Guess which Colorado number shows up on the dashboards, such as Worldometer, that everyone is tracking. That’s right, the inflated 1,352 figure.

In late April, Pennsylvania removed more than 200 deaths from its count – which amounted to 12% reduction at the time – after reviewing the data.

Assuming that all states are tallying numbers the way these states had been, the national count is almost certainly off by a very wide margin – possibly in the tens of thousands.

The reaction from public health officials to this is to basically say, “Who cares?” In their view, it’s always better to overcount deaths than undercount, because that way people will take the outbreak seriously.

Michael Fumento, writing for Just The News, quotes a former World Health Organization epidemiologist who said that inflating such numbers was routine, and called it beating the numbers up. “‘We did it consciously. I think all of us at that time thought that the beat-ups were more than justified, they were necessary’ to get donors and governments to care,” Fumento writes.

“Beating up” the numbers might be acceptable to public health officials, but for the country as a whole it is turning out to be a complete disaster. If the death toll from COVID-19 is actually in the range of 75,000, then it’s more like a bad seasonal flu than an epidemic requiring a once-thriving economy to shut down.

And as we pointed out in this space, the cost of the lockdown in lives could easily be higher — and possibly much higher — than the deaths attributed to the virus.

Democrats keep bleating about how we must follow the science when deciding when and how to reopen the economy. We’d like to know what’s scientific about knowingly inflating numbers just to get people “to care.”

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board.

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The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


    • True, but this is nothing new. Look at hurricane season predictions, what food is ok, what food is bad. FDA approves drugs, drugs and up killing you. There is no reason to believe anything the feds say, the experts have a terrible record.

  • What surprises me here is that as journalists you do not follow the dictum to follow the money. In Medicare billings, COVID-19 is worth $9,000 per patient for the medical bill. Add in a ventilator and there is $39,000 a patient in extra billings. Had NY governor Cuomo had gotten the 50,000 ventilators he screamed about needing, that is a pretty big cash cow for NY.

    $$ = Motivation.

    Overall, I think the media passive acceptance of numbers, with exceptions like Michael Fumento, has a legacy. Misleading numbers were also part of the prescription opiod reporting, where a deeper dive into the CDC statistics would have revealed that heroin and illegal opiod numbers were blended with prescription opiods to yield a number that inflated the numbers for the purpose of lawsuits and milking the pharmas for money. It is the equivalent of yellow journalism and Remember the Maine. Just my two cents worth.

  • In Maine it seems all deaths are from Covid , all 81 of them. Although I have noticed that they now say died with, rather than died from. I will get there have been more deaths at Maine abortion clinics than from Covid.

  • Somebody needs to proofread. The “It’s” and “who’s” in this article should be “Its” and “whose.” You look uneducated when you get simple grammar wrong.

  • My guess! The actual final figures will show somewhere between 40-45% LESS than stated. Keep in mind that almost every death, these days, is being reported as a Coronavirus death, even automobile accidents, heart attacks, cancer, etc..

    • The very first clue is when they, the media, chaanged the name from Chronavirus to Covid-19 in an attrmpt to confuse the public. The next one was WHO defending China with false information. The next was the CDC mandate that virtually assured all hospital admissions were reported as Covid-19 infections and all deaths tabulated as Covid-19 related regardless if the patient died of other pre-existing conditions. Nancy and her band of criminals loat no headway in capatolizing on a problem they helped to create, all with their political agenda to destroy our two party system and replace it with a Socialist Global government with them as the elites in control over the rest of us.

  • The reality is that none of this analysis takes into account the inflated deaths from Medicare coding designations. Just about any hospital doc where there was a fair amount of COVID activity can tell you there was pressure to list COVID as the cause of death in order to generate additional revenue from Medicare reimbursement policy. I get it, the hospitals were bleeding money. HHS was probably looking for a way to get some cash into them and in the rush came up with a reimbursement rate that exceeded the typical charge limits the specific treatments would have been eligible for. I would hazard a guess that medicare deaths in hospital are overstated wildly, upwards of 30% and you will never know because the death certificate says COVID.

    Assuming what this study shows as a 10-15% overstatement, and adding in the silliness in NY totals, plus Medicare reimbursement policies, I would guess the real death totals are in the 60,000 range. A lot of people no doubt, but a number that doesn’t quite ring so loudly.

  • As far as the press/Democrats (same thing) are concerned, the more the merrier. The NY Slimes front pages proves that. The running totals on media screens is like watching ESPN’s crawl running sports scores. It’s all a big game to the media. If it bleeds, it leads has never been more on display.

  • Inslee once again shows his bias and fear mongering. The leftists are pushing the numbers to support their draconian and damaging shutdown orders for political reasons.

  • One more evidence ::: any form of socialist ‘government’ endures on the innocent blood of those subject to it !!!

    The sooner we get back to American USA, the better for the whole world …

    A total scrapping of all these COVID-19 idiocies would permit the whole Nation to recover in not more than one and one half phases of the Moon !!!

  • Hospitals were hit hard financially when elective surgery’s were shut down as part of shut down orders. The stated reason for this measure was to ensure enough space and doctors were available to handle the “flood” of patients coming in with Covid 19. This never happened, of course, leaving hospitals scrambling for money to keep from going bankrupt. Nancy Pelosi came to the rescue with her 1st trillion dollar rescue bill. In it were the changes to Medicare, where every person aged 65 or more is on. Since almost all of the people who have died are 75+ the new payment structure includes this: $5,000 for each admitted patient with suspected Covid 19; $13,000 for each patient with confirmed China virus, and; $39,000 for each patient on a ventilator. So, are there any surprises as to why every patient who comes in is automatically put on a ventilator and listed as Covid 19 even if they only suspect the death was the virus?

  • Every year I read exactly how many in America died in the past year of Flu, Heart attack, Diabetes, Cancer, etc. All I see now is haw many die due to Corona virus.
    Where are all the numbers?

  • God will soon make all the activities and foolishness of this fallen world mute.

  • Just spoke with a neighbor who told me about a woman he knew who passed away earlier this month after a long bout with breast cancer. He was surprised to read the obituary stating that she had succumbed to Coronavirus.

  • 75,000 while the country was in lockdown. Hmmm.
    I wonder if masks that stopped the immediate spread of aerosols from nose and mouth (not to protect oneself, as in stopping .1 micron particles from coming in), would we have had to shut down anything?

    • I haven’t seen Yardley anyone wearing a mask, only 20 cases in entire county, 2 hospitalizations, no deaths. Two counties to the South they have the majority of cases, hospitalizations and desths. They wear masks, etc. Not sure why it has not jumped the county line, maybe those masks are keeping it contained.

  • The miracle that is being overlooked is that the CCP virus has cured the common cold and nearly every other respiratory infection.

  • 10% over count will not have a material impact on covid’s IFR. It may have a material impact on federal remittances to state gov’s.

  • Actually the disease is significantly undercounted, because the states have been reclassifying deaths from it as deaths from pneumonia:;jsessionid=79613680F2D76D396E1F3B335F1CB3D6

    2018 Flu/Pnuemonia TOTAL deaths: 59120
    2018 Feb-May Flu/Pneumonia deaths: 22908
    2020 Feb-May Flu/Pneumonia deaths: 97676

    But I’m sure the fact that flu/pneumonia deaths just happen to be 300% higher than last year in the exact period of the pandemic is ‘just a coincidence’…

  • Don’t you dare tell me the numbers are not inflated. I’m a nurse, I’m in Seattle and I know how they are being counted since my service has had more Covid than any. They are flat out lying

  • This article belongs right up there with “Just How Exaggerated Is The Holocaust Death Count?” Really disgusting.

    • You know you have a weak argument when you have to resort to statements like that. Really disappointing.

      • The CDC has been reporting a large number of “excess” deaths well above what the COVID-19 statistics account for ( Fauci and others have stated the actual number is somewhat higher than what is being reporting. We are BOTH over-counting and under-counting, but we are under-counting more.

        But this article doesn’t care to discuss that, because it is a pure propaganda piece (“like a bad seasonal flu”) to downplay the seriousness of the disease. For month now, the “just the flu” people have been downplaying it, and every time the virus has proven them to be embarrassingly wrong. Instead of facing facts like adults, it is just a unending stream of lies. And when the lies don’t work any more, it will be time to start rewriting history.

        All in an effort to make sure a certain politician doesn’t look bad.

  • Just discovered your site. It looks like its right up my alley. I’m a truth-teller and truth-seeker that tries to cut through the BS.

  • i have a different spin on the death toll associated with covid 19. i think it’s much bigger than reported. if you’re including anyone who died as a result of coronavirus without regard to other conditions, you have to also include everyone who dies as a result of cancer and other conditions diagnosed too late, or treated differently because of the restrictions during the lockdown. you have to include all suicides because of depression etc due to job loss, retirement savings losses, inability to socialize etc because of the restrictions during the lockdown. you must include all the nursing home residents who died that cuomo fudged the other way to take heat off of himself for all the deaths that he directly caused. most importantly, and something nobody is talking about, you have to include all the unnecessary deaths moving forward for mutations of this disease, which will be the result of prolonging the virus by purposely avoiding herd immunity, which is the only way that virus’s have ever been eradicated in the history of man! when you add it all up, the deaths due to government reaction to covid will be far more than the unavoidable deaths directly resulting from covid.

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