Issues & Insights

The Big Surge In Coronavirus Deaths Is A Media-Fed Myth

Health.mil

I&I Editorial

Almost daily now we’ve been reading about how daily deaths from COVID-19 have reached record highs. It’s a scary prospect. But the truth is the mainstream press is grossly misleading the public by misreporting the death counts.

Here’s a typical report, from USA Today a few days ago: “As the outbreak continues to surge across the southern states, Florida, Texas and South Carolina set records for new daily deaths, reporting 156, 129 and 69, respectively.”

ABC News reported that “Nineteen states set single-day records for the most cases this week … Three states set a record today.”

According to PBS in Arizona, the state “on Saturday (July 18) set a record for coronavirus-related deaths reported in one day, with 147, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.”

The last story is particularly illuminating because the website the PBS article links to includes a chart of daily deaths in the state. It lists only six deaths on July 19. What’s more, the chart shows that there have only been two days where deaths exceeded 65.

So where did that scary 147 number come from? The same place all the other “surging” numbers come from. Each day Arizona and other states file reports on how many people died from COVID-19. It’s not a measure of how many died that day. In most cases, the people died days or even weeks earlier.

In fact, in Arizona’s case, 106 of the reported deaths on Saturday resulted from a periodic review of death certificates.

None of those caveats made it into the PBS story.

The same thing happened in Florida, when a wave of news reports screamed about how the state had recorded 156 deaths in one day last week.

“The grim milestones come quickly in the Sunshine State,” CNN reported. “The Florida Department of Health reported 156 new coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday, the most yet in a 24-hour period.”

Yet Florida’s health department reports only 68 deaths that day. The most deaths occurring in a single day in the state is 101. (See chart below.)

Nowhere in the CNN story is the difference explained to readers.

On Tuesday, Florida reported 132 deaths. But of those, 41 occurred more than a week ago.

In Texas, a Dallas Morning News headline shouted that “As Texas sees a record 174 coronavirus deaths in a day, Gov. Greg Abbott pleads for use of masks.”

But CDC data show that none of the recorded deaths in Texas occurred last week. As far as the CDC knows, only 64 died the week before that.

In California, meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times told its readers Tuesday that “for the weeklong period that ended Monday, 674 deaths were reported in California, the highest weekly total to date. In the previous seven-day period, 640 people died, which had also been a weekly record; the week before that, 474 died.”

The CDC, however, reports that it knows of only 48 people who died from COVID-19 in California last week, 276 the week before that, and 476 two weeks ago.

Nationwide, it’s the same story.

For the week ending July 18, the CDC says that only 190 COVID-related deaths are known to have occurred. But the trackers all show more than 5,000 deaths that week. The week before that, the CDC says it knows of 1,623 deaths, while the trackers report more than 4,600.

The CDC notes that its more recent daily death counts are certainly too low because it takes time to record the deaths as being due to COVID-19.

“It is important to note that it can take several weeks for death records to be submitted to National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), processed, coded, and tabulated,” the CDC says.

In other words, we have no idea how many people are actually dying from COVID-19 right now, and won’t have that information for weeks.

So, doesn’t that mean that the data will eventually show that a significant surge in deaths is happening now?

Not necessarily. The number of daily new cases in states such as Florida, Texas, California and Arizona appear to have already peaked. Plus, the age of those testing positive is lower, hospitals are better equipped and treatment regimens have improved since the first surge in April. And, unlike in New York, New Jersey and other northeastern states that panicked, these states aren’t sending COVID-19 patients into nursing homes, where some 40% of deaths nationwide occurred.

Also, if states track “new” cases the same way they do deaths — when the test results are logged into the system rather than when the infection occurred — then the peak from the recent increase in infections likely happened earlier than reported.

That’s the case in Florida, according to a report from Just the News. It found that the state’s database includes both the “case date” — when the test results are logged in the state’s system — and “event date” — when symptoms first appeared.

However, the state uses the “case date” to create its daily chart of new infections.

“Data show that the state was apparently undercounting thousands of cases between early and mid-June, after which through the end of June and into early July it began posting what were presumably the backlogged cases it had missed in the prior weeks,” Daniel Payne reported.

Assuming other states are taking the same approach, this means that the worst of the coronavirus “surge” may have already happened and the current panic is being stoked by a negligent mainstream media that are unwilling or unable to understand the data they’re reporting.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

Editor’s note: The date-of-death counts will continue to change as states report more coronavirus-related deaths. The figures were current when this article was published.

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32 comments

  • I’ve got a friend whose husband just died in a motorcycle accident. He had an accidental death policy. Because they tested this man after his death for Covid 19 and he tested positive, they put on the death certificate his cause of death being Covid 19. Now the wife is having to fight them to change that because the insurance company now refuses to pay out on the accidental death. So sad that they are messing with people’s lives like this. How many more people are in the same boat?

  • LA reports deaths on their website in a couple of places. They do their daily press release which usually has big numbers. This is the number they announce at a press conference of county health officials. (This weekend was noteworthy for its low numbers: 11 on Saturday and 9 on Sunday. That 9 was the lowest since the second week of March. I expected Monday’s number to be high to make up for any slack in weekend reporting, but it was not out of the ordinary for a weekday number here with 50.)

    But, the county also maintains a dashboard with more careful reporting of numbers. There, they do place the deaths when they happened, not just when the country found out about them.

    On July 16th, the press release had 59 deaths, with 5 from Long Beach and none from Pasadena. By the time that data had been finalized on the county’s dashboard (which doesn’t include LB or Pas) that number was down to 26: from 54 to 26, a drop of more than half.

    July 15, the headline number from the press release was 44 deaths, with 2 in LB and 1 in Pas. The finalized number on the dashboard was just 21. Again, the final number was about half the press release number.

    And yet, this is the sort of data that gets reported without questions from the media, and these are likely the numbers the politicians are looking at when they decide to drive more business out of business with closures.

  • I’m not disagreeing with the article, in that the deaths are being inflated, but the chart from ADHS shows 6 deaths for July 19 where as the article claims only 3 and the article claims that there were no days where the deaths exceeded 65 but July 4th, 7th, 8th and 9th are all above 65. Am I misreading the chart?

    • No, you are not misreading the ADHS chart. The numbers used in the article were current when it was published. (They’ve been updated to reflect the latest data from Arizona.) The date-of-death counts will continue to change as the state reports coronavirus-related deaths.

  • It will get worse as November approaches. Omitted information will simply become false information as these media sources try to keep schools from opening.

    • Total deaths and cases continue to rise in the U S. Do people want to minimize this for political reasons?

    • you are correct–after Nov. 3rd, miraculously the death statistics will decrease, Covid will be a fond memory, and we will be on the road to a western Venezuela..

  • THERE IS NO CURE FOR COVID-19.

    Immunity by antibodies has been shown to cease after a few months, even to few weeks. That means a vaccine is ineffective. The ailment continues to be communicable, even when symptoms are not evident.

    Treatment by HCQ is effective but forbidden by pharmacy industry lobby. Ref. https://townhall.com/columnists/johnandandyschlafly/2020/07/15/hydroxychloroquine-should-be-available-over-the-counter-n2572496

    Patients pay $3000 and much more for treatment and die by ventilators.

  • I would really like to believe buy are the Fl, Ga, Tx governors and Trump so uninformed that they cannot call out the panic pushers. Daily news releases could go a long way.

  • if accurate why are Trump and the GOP Governors not calling out the MSM panic pushers? Somebody help me here.

  • Can we get an accurate tally of death’s from COVID versus with COVID, please!

  • Garbage news FAIL. Das Radio reported 130,000 have perished due to the Rona and this is in a nation of 330 million plus people.
    The prattling plandemic panic porn pablum has grown tiresome after four straight months.
    The Pavlovian obedience muzzle sheep herd bleating is downright sad.
    Savior self.

  • Sadly, we’ve lost the battle against the Wuhan Flu. Data is massaged and misrepresented to fit an agenda-getting rid of Trump. This is a losing battle.

  • So what can be done to get the the news reporting trustworthy again ? They are playing a game of fear and control at the citizens expense. Many of us have turned to other sources for news , the big 5 are out and more and more people are feeling the same way. Tell the truth or get off the air. Disgraceful and uncalled for.

  • You say this: “The last story is particularly illuminating because the website the PBS article links to includes a chart of daily deaths in the state. It lists only six deaths on July 19. What’s more, the chart shows that there have only been two days where deaths exceeded 65.”

    But the AZ web site shows 2974 deaths total as of today (https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/infectious-disease-epidemiology/covid-19/dashboards/index.php).

    And the CDC data shows 2918. Not much of a difference. The AZ web site notes their death IDs were misaligned with Federal guidance, and that they have fixed it.

    This big “expose” seems like a big nothing-burger to me. Perhaps a correction is in order.

    • What is it exactly that you think needs to be corrected? The quote you cite is accurate. At the time this editorial was published, the Arizona data showed that there had only been two days when deaths exceeded 65 (the latest data show five days with deaths over 65). We note in the editorial that the numbers will be changing.

  • Also, the mefia is ignorung a real surge that happened over the ladt 6 werks. About 6 weeks ago New Jersey was second in coronavirus deaths per 100,00 with about 126. New york was first with 156 per 100,000. Now New Jersey is girst with 177 per 100,000 and New York is second with 167 per 100,000. Texas ha 15; Arizona 40 and Florida 24.

  • This comes down to how the data is being collected. The data reported is only as good as how it is collected, which varies with every department of health and currently there is no standardized procedure. To access the data for ourselves is near impossible, especially since the CDC is no longer receiving data the way it used to. Delays in testing result need to improve, and clarifying what is considered death due to versus with coronavirus would be helpful in reporting out more accurate data.

  • Thanks for this article, another thing you missed related to cases is the update to the case counting methodology that quietly happened in the end of May. Here is a link to how Texas changed their counting methodology. Top line, the word “case” doesn’t really mean a case being treated, it loosely means an exposure. https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/docs/DSHS-COVID19CaseDefinitionandInvestigationPrioritizationGuidance.pdf There was a youtube video of the Collin County health department being questioned about the new methodology, but it has been taken down.

  • There’s a _reason_ the MSM are being pilloried as “fake news” outlets.

  • The statistics for total deaths in the USA will better tell the virus story. So much of what we are seeing is just subjective measures. It is quite possible the overall death rate for the year will be little disturbed. That is no comfort to people who lost a loved one prematurely but many of those deaths were going to be premature at some point as a result of the underlying health problems.

    Stay healthy!

  • I, too, am very skeptical of the way this is being reported both Nationally and Internationally. If CV19 is as virulent, deadly and widespread as depicted in the press the global numbers should be astronomical by now.

    Add to this the tidbit that in the state my brother lives in positive tests are counted – even if the same person continues to test positive without symptoms. He’s had it for 4-6 weeks now, two positive tests (gets another today) and no symptoms. So now there are two “positives” (possibly three if he’s still carrying it) in the State, even though it’s the same person.

    Oh, and he’s a smoker, ’bout a half pack a day.

    As much as I hate to sound like some tin foil hat wearing loon, I have to consider that there are forces at work that do not have the interests of the citizens at heart, and they are deeply ensconced all throughout our military, state and federal agencies. I am still dumbfounded that an avowed communist could ever have been selected and installed as the DNI.

  • The day the media reported 69 deaths in SC, I checked SC DHEC, Some of the deaths went back 3 weeks.

  • [print-me target="#post-%ID%"]

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