A dozen states have seen record highs in new coronavirus cases, blares the news media, accompanied by dire warnings of a “second wave” of the disease because those awful Republican states reopened too soon. Once again, however, the mainstream press is needlessly scaring the public by hiding the relevant context.
One news outlet put it this way: “The U.S. reported more than 33,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday – the highest total since May 1 – while the surge of infections in several states is outpacing growth in coronavirus testing.”
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow tried to tamp down the panic by declaring that there is no second wave. “There are some hotspots. We’re on it,” he said.
Even if there is a “second wave,” it doesn’t mean anything in and of itself.
For one thing the Centers for Disease Control has long predicted that coronavirus cases would increase as the country reopened, for the simple reason that the lockdowns were never intended to stop the spread of the disease, only to slow it down. Remember? Flatten the curve?
The point of the lockdown was to give the country the time to ramp up testing, look for treatments, and increase medical supplies. By curbing the spread, health officials could more readily identify hotspots and conduct contact tracing, and the health care system could cope with any increase in demand. Which, as Kudlow points out, is exactly what’s happening now.
What’s more, the increase in coronavirus cases matters only if they are going up faster than expected, and whether this is resulting in a second wave of deaths.
Neither of those appears to be true.
Take Georgia, for example. Gov. Brian Kemp took plenty of heat for reopening the state starting in late April. He was gambling with people’s lives, we were told.
One epidemiological model predicted shortly after Kemp’s announcement that daily COVID-19 deaths would likely double in Georgia by August.
“The model predicts that the number of COVID-19 deaths per day in Georgia will jump from 32 people dying on May 1 to a projected 63 people dying per day by August 4,” reported WRCB TV.
In fact, the number of daily deaths in the state had already peaked on April 16 at 57 and has been steadily declining ever since. The state recorded a total of 37 deaths all last week, and zero on Sunday.
The same trend is happening nationally, which has seen the growth rate in the total number of cases steadily outstrip the growth in COVID-19 deaths for many weeks now.
So far this month, in fact, the number of new cases on June 21 was 16% higher than on June 1, but the daily number of deaths was 63% lower.
Still, won’t the current spike in cases lead to a subsequent spike in deaths?
That’s unlikely. As Michael Fumento has repeatedly pointed out in these pages and elsewhere, death rates are higher at the start of an outbreak for the simple reason that the disease claims the low-hanging fruit first. This, he says, is known as Farr’s Law.
In the case of COVID-19, this reality is glaringly apparent, as the disease strictly targets the old and infirm.
The latest CDC data show that those aged 65 and older account for 80% of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. But that age group makes up only 16% of the population. At the other end of the spectrum, those under age 35 comprise 45% of the population but account for a tiny 0.8% of COVID-19 deaths.
Not only has the disease already claimed many of the most vulnerable in this country, there are also millions who now have antibodies.
The combination means that even if there are lots of new cases going forward, the death toll is likely to be far less severe than it has been.
Just don’t expect anyone in the mainstream press to explain this, because they’re too busy looking for ways to blame a scary “second wave” on President Donald Trump.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board