Issues & Insights
Johns Hopkins

Coronavirus Cases Are Climbing Again. So What?

I&I Editorial

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

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


  • This is spot on except for referring to the media as mainstream. Not only do they not reflect the views and beliefs of main stream Americans, they hate main stream America. With a passion! Calling them mainstream gives them standing they do not reflect and do not deserve. Leftstream media, yes. Mainstream? Not even close.

  • At this point in time, rising cases and even deaths don’t really matter to those in power. The results from their experiment to lock the sheep down was a huge success. Nobody except for a few, who were systematically destroyed, spoke up or complained. In true “good little Nazi” tradition, all the sheep baaaaa’d the same dogma as the powers that be put out and heaven help anybody who disagreed with the mob.

  • Our death rate has declined somewhat, but it’s still 3x that of Germany. And our unemployment rate is 2.5x higher. Why should we be satisfied with that sorry record? Why is the Administration not encouraging social distancing and mask wearing? And attacking testing?

    • The Administration is NOT attacking testing. Do you not recognize a joke when you hear it? Did you not listen to the rest of what the President said immediately after making that joke? Eleven million of us heard him. We know exactly what he said.

  • It is sad when death becomes your friend against your political enemies.

  • stop listening to the fear mongers. The only covid stat that matters is deaths per day. That peaked over two months ago in mid April. It has been on a constant downward movement with no spikes since then.

  • This website is too aggressive in its advertising. I’ve had a dozen ads popping up since I got here. I’m outahere.

    • Thank you for the feedback. We are trying to get the balance right.

  • If you are going to report that number deaths are declining, would you please include a graph showing declining deaths and the source of that data. I can’t fathom why “journalists” insist upon reporting what anonymous “experts” say instead of why they say it. I hate you all for that and want you arrested and put in a pillory where people can wipe boogers on you.

    Also— what is with all the intrusive active advertising content?. I can’t stand it. Someone needs to be stripped naked, tarred, feathered plus an extra day in that pillory.

      • According to Iran had a second wave of infections which began at the beginning of May. This was followed by a second wave of deaths which began three weeks later. This delay fits with what is known about the time course of coronovirus infection,

        This is worth mentioning, since Iran is the only country other than the US which has had a second wave of infections after the first wave subsided, The difference is that the apparent second wave of infections in the US is much more recent, and in fact only began two to three weeks ago. So, we are likely to know very soon if the death toll will be less severe, as you predict.

    • Read the article about declining deaths on this very site. It shows the rapidly declining death totals, with the exception of one day where one state revised their numbers upward. I don’t get any ads. What browser are you using?

  • Of course the number of cases are rising in certain spots. Two months ago we could only afford to test those who had certain symptoms. Today testing includes many who are asymptomatic. We never tested that section of the population before. What’s not getting many headlines is that the number of deaths has been on a steady decline since the peak in April. The deaths this last Sunday were 10% of the deaths in April.

  • The dragging out of the COVID 19 flu doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out.

    First, our government get control of States by huge amount of cash. That states are losing millions of dollars because everything has been shut down for weeks.

    Hospital after hospitals are shutting down because they could not do business as normal during the shut down. The governors of the states; it doesn’t matter Republican and/or Democrat are trying to survive in a budget crises.

    Hospitals are complaining, business are complaining, people are complaining to the politician’s right? But how can the governors get their hands on government money. Well, lets see, how about dragging this out while the government gives everyone more money, but if it all of sudden stops they have a really big mess because it might take 10-years who knows at this point, right?

    The news media is complicit they already hate Trump their looking for anything to keep the ciaos going. Moreover, the chance to make red states look really bad by getting them to go back into a slow down for government money is a weakness then can exploit. What politician won’t sell their soul for free funding they all want some of the cash cow to get re-elected.

    Perhaps, the reason the politician are so quiet over all the violence and take over by blacks lives matter is it hooked to the government money they need for their state, ya think so?

    So the tight rob has been strung and its very small, the sheep people went for it once so we will take both side of the issue and ignore the destruction of our history and our state until we get all the funding we can get than we start telling the truth and talking tough to get re-elected.

    PS. Follow the money!

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