Issues & Insights
U.S. Air Force photo by Brad Sturk

Despite What You’ve Heard, The COVID Crisis Probably Peaked Two Weeks Ago

I&I Editorial

Here’s a headline you likely saw over the past 24 hours about what’s happening in Florida.

 “Florida sets new daily mark for COVID-19 deaths while DeSantis finds ‘positive trends.’”

The Tallahassee Democrat, which ran that headline, goes on to say that “Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been sued by the state’s largest teachers union over his administration’s order to reopen schools next month for in-person classes, went to an Orlando hospital Tuesday to highlight what he called ‘positive trends’ in hospital admissions in Central Florida.”

Note the sneering attitude. Deaths are skyrocketing while an out-of-touch Republican governor talks about “positive trends.”

On Wednesday, Florida reported a record high 216 deaths and “the grim news comes a day after the state set the record with 186 virus-related deaths,” as NBC Miami put it.

In fact, the record high for the daily number of deaths in the state appears to have been on July 16, when 123 people in the state were known to have died with the disease. 

As of Wednesday night, Florida’s COVID-19 surveillance dashboard showed only 13 deaths on July 28. 

As we have reported in this space before, the press is using daily reports from states to paint a picture of a runaway virus. (See: Florida Is A Case Study In Media-Induced COVID-19 Panic, and The Big Surge In Coronavirus Deaths Is A Media-Fed Myth)

What the mainstream press keeps forgetting to tell people is that it can take the government days, if not weeks, to record a COVID-19 death. The daily reports aren’t telling us what’s happening now, but what happened earlier in the month. The chart below shows the impact of this. The gray bars represent when deaths are reported by Florida, and the red bars are when the deaths actually occurred. 

Notice that Florida’s daily reports undercounted actual deaths in the first half of July (by more than 400). That’s when most of the deaths being reported now happened. 

If anything, what the numbers show is that the virus peaked in that state around mid-July.

There’s more evidence that the crisis is already on the downtrend. Hospital admissions in Florida appear to have peaked more than a week ago. AdventHealth Orlando, for example, reports that the COVID-19 patient count was at 515 on July 19, while this Tuesday the hospital had 406 patients with the illness. And the AdventHealth system across the state is also reporting a decline in admissions from the virus since early July.

These are the facts that DeSantis pointed to when he talked about “positive trends.”

In other words, while the virus no doubt has had a big impact on the state, the worst appears to be over. The same holds true in other states that saw a spike in cases starting in June.

But instead of looking at these facts and what they mean, the press attacked DeSantis, pointedly asking “how he could square his upbeat assessment with the mounting death toll.”

Let us state what should be obvious but seems to confuse some people: We are not claiming that the coronavirus isn’t a deadly disease, or that it should not be taken seriously. (We do believe, however, the total death count has been exaggerated nationwide because states are counting deaths with COVID-19, not deaths from COVID-19. And the evidence is mounting that the massively expensive lockdowns were ineffective.)

But if the crisis is passing in states such as Florida, Texas, Arizona and elsewhere, shouldn’t the public know about that? And why are the media acting as though it’s getting worse?

— 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.


  • Of course the public should know the facts, But it’s in the media’s interest – as well as the Democrat party’s – to obscure and obfuscate and to stoke the panic they’ve created by false/inaccurate reporting. Certainly, 140000 deaths with and from covid-19 are an appalling statistic, but a better figure would be the number of deaths due to covid-19 per 100000 or 1000000 of the population. (If I were covid-19 positive and went out tomorrow and died in a traffic accident, for example, I’d be reported as a covid death, not as a traffic death .. and that’s in the red state of Texas – although in one of the bluest congressional districts, I hasten to add.)

    The MSM will not begin reporting the real statistics until after the election, assuming Biden wins and their declared enemy of all that’s right and proper loses. If Public Enemy #1 manages to eke out reelection, look for the skewed reporting to continue and be intensified.

    • Hi Robert, I appreciate your perspective but wanted to add a few thoughts – not about politics. I do not post about politics, but I am disappointed by people trying to minimize the disaster. First, the US is third in deaths per 100,000 persons, which is still very severe. I think not enough attention has been paid to the disasters in the UK and Chile which are ahead of us in this statistic. The rest of the top 10 countries in per-capita death rate are in Latin America, plus Iran and Kyrgyzstan. I think we can all agree that’s a bad list to be on. As you say, 140,000 deaths is beyond reason, and very sad indeed.

      Second, I have seen this assertion that a person with a positive test involved in a car accident will count as a COVID-19 related death. This is simply not true and I hope that you will double check where you found that information, and then help me to spread accurate info to others in your network & online. Cause of death determination is a simple but very specific process that physicians and medical examiners report in a detailed way. Only deaths with an immediate cause of COVID-19 (rare since patients die of complications) or “due to COVID-19” through a chain of events or as a contributing factor would count toward the tally in local, state or federally reported data.

      Please consider reading this story from the Scientific American (again, apolitical and not “MSM”) which I found helpful in my understanding.

      • As a long time reader of Scientific American, I can safely state that they haven’t written an apoiltical issue since the discovery of nuclear fission. Their opposition to President Reagan’s “Star Wars” defenses against Russian attack was particularly egregious, and formed the bulk of articles of that era, continuing from lefty cause to lefty cause until the present.

        Pick a more believable example.

      • Ben,

        Far from trying to minimize the disaster, I’m concerned that it’s not being accurately or honestly reported for political purposes and that much of what we’re being fed by the MSM and the Democrat party is designed to stoke the panicdemic.

        I gave up on Scientific American several years back. I had subscribed for some 25 years, but dropped it when their coverage began taking on a leftist/liberal slant at the expense of accuracy. I’d say they’re scarcely an unbiased source.

      • Sorry, that isn’t accurate. In Colorado, if you are in a nursing home where an outbreak (2 or more cases) has occurred, and you die, they do not test, they count you as a “died with Covid” death and it is reportable. In addition, there are cases, which have been exposed by coroners, where a person died, was tested after, found to have the virus or anti-bodies, and were counted as a Covid death. The most famous in Colorado, a man who drank himself to death.

    • I’d like to see deaths by week in 2019 compared to deaths per week in 2020. That would give a more realistic look at the effect of Covid 19. Has anyone seen such curves?

      • 2019 vs 2020 to date looks like this:

        But much more interesting is the comparison with 2018 that shows the peak of the 2017-18 flu season and the fact that the COVID death peak is only about 20% higher and not as sustained. About 58K died from the flu in 2017-18 — were you panicked?

        Oh, and lately we average over 50K flu deaths a year … with a vaccine! (Of varying effectiveness…)

        But even more interesting than that: on the top chart the COVID mortality peak size and shape looks a lot like the 57 and 68 flu pandemics — the latter of which didn’t have a vaccine in time either. (COVID red vs 68 flu blue.)

        The fact that “authorities” like Fauci aren’t showing you this to calm you down tells you all you need to know…

  • Hi, in order to pass judgement about whether it is currently declining or not, we would need to know the average lag time between a death and when it was recorded. If you knew that it took an average of a week, and a max of three weeks for them to enter the state record you could double week old data and have a decent estimate of the final number for a given date. However the most recent data is close to useless until more results are in. Basically it’s like voting…does yesterday’s number represent 5% of the ‘precincts’ or 20%?

    • I think that you’re certainly asking the right question. I live in Houston, and have been closely following data for Texas and my county, Harris. I am using data from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, which I had found reliable from previous use.
      I am most interested in daily death data, particularly when it is well curated. On July 27, they completely changed their criteria for reporting COVID-19 data. They now only record death data when a COVID-19 diagnosis is confirmed, along with confirmations of the date and location.
      Several things Then happened to the data. The overall death count increased by about 13%. The raggedness of the older data, with fewer daily death counts happening on weekends, was eliminated.
      Most important from my viewpoint, was the resultant time accuracy of the data. Because of this, is not reliably complete if fewer than about ten days have passed. Past totals will always be corrected if need be, but it looks 98% reliable by 9-11 days before present.
      The resulting data for Harris county is now that there were probably maximum daily deathS occurring about July 11. That doesn’t mean that there will be no future increases, but a peak with a long tail is one of the more common types of curves. We can hope.

      • I know a person in Frankfort Kentucky right now who is fighting to get Covid removed from their sons death certificate as cause of death. The boy serious medical issues and had been hospitalized well before Covid made it’s appaerance. He was tested daily and never one time tested positive BUT he is a Covid death right now. This absolutely is happening.

  • Bryan E is correct — this editorial is probably right and deaths are declining but we readers don’t know if they are really declining or we are waiting for more data. Maybe it always looks like they are declining until more results are in. In addition, a thing that confuses me about the plot is that it seems to me that the total number of deaths in the grey bars and the red bars should be equal, Because they aren’t it looks like the grey bars are double-counting somehow (or this should be explained on the plot). Why doesn’t every point in the grey bars show up in some red bar?

  • The only silver lining in this CPC sourced crisis is that it is exposing mendacity all around, that of the medical profession and, even more spectacularly, that of the media. Many have known for a long time about the bias and bad reporting of propaganda outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post, both less truthful than Pravda in its heyday. Now, though, the average citizen is coming to understand that smaller papers like that mentioned in this article, and all the major television/radio broadcasters are nothing but mouthpieces for the Democrat Party (many of the TV ‘industry’s’ public faces, guys like Tapper and Stephanopoulos, for example, are recycled Democrat hacks pretending to be journalists).

  • If it takes weeks to fully report deaths, the most recent weeks’ death counts are meaningless.

    How can we say that deaths peaked two weeks ago if we have no reliable data for the most recent two weeks?

    As noted in the article, the liberal media pounce on anything they can portray as deceptive or uninformed conservative optimism. Don’t give them free ammunition.

  • Covid crisis? What crisis? The crisis of death caused by locking Covids up in nursing homes? Aside from those horrible instances, the death rate of Covid is quite small. It would be smaller still if Hydroxychloroquine were being used as soon as Covid was discovered, or even suspected. What we have is a global pandemic of horrible political decisions not of a horrible disease.

    • But don’t worry. Soon we will have a global pandemic of children with retarded neurological systems caused by wearing a mask all day. Damage caused directly from a lack of blood O2, retarding tissue growth and development. Damage also caused indirectly, as masked kids are less active, reduced activity causing reduced neural development.

  • Los Ang reported 91 deaths yesterday, which was quite high (we had 9 a few days ago). They were honest about it though, and right in the headline of their press release they said it wasn’t a real number, but the result of a data dump of lagging data from several days coming in at once (thus that 9 will likely shoot up quite a bit).

  • Keeping the hysteria stoked would be a useful strategy to get governments to implement mail-in voting (not absentee voting, which is tightly controlled). Mail-in voting is rife with fraud. As the title of a book I read many years ago stated, “If they can’t cheat, they can’t win.”

  • What worries me is the roller coaster caused by reopening then retreating then reopening again then retreating again. All you’re doing by continuously retreating is kicking the can down the road and when you try to reopen again cases increase and governors turn tail and retreat again, thereby getting the down-ticks the fake news media demands but with no end in sight because once you tentatively reopen again the cases and fake news media screaming just start up again.

    Have some (Swedish meat)balls and just reopen already, hard and fast, plain and simple. The one and only thing to cause a retreat should be if hospitals get overrun such that even diversion to other nearby hospitals doesn’t work.

    At this point I don’t care about cases nor do I even care about deaths considering how jiggered and fake those numbers are. I only care about hospital capacity, which is visually observable on site by anyone who cares to look, and even then not about approaching 100% capacity considering most hospitals can surge capacity by 15%-20% on a dime. Remember when hospital capacity was the single loudly broadcast reason for the shutdowns?

  • Total number of COVID deaths, if accurate (highly questionable), still remains below the average annual number of premature deaths attributable to “medical malpractice“!

  • I’m a northern Florida resident and to date, I do not personally know of anyone that has either tested positive or died of the CoVid-19 virus. Of the deaths that I do know of, they had long term illnesses such as cancer or other.

    One of the largest problems is attempting to find accurate data. The Florida Health Department shows 24 deaths for 7-30-20, while the CovidUSA website shows 153 for the same date.

  • Has anybody notice that the Coronavirus Rt value in almost every state was already going down when the “shelter in home” went into effect?
    In fact some of the states had a Rt value under 1.0 when the “shelter in home” started.
    Does that mean the “shelter in home” had little effect on the virus?

  • What I have been waiting to see is Covid mortalities of 2020 plotted against their cohort from the years before.

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