Issues & Insights
Source: U.S. Army

Is The Coronavirus Crisis Finally Over?

I&I Editorial

Much of America has been in some phase or another of a lockdown since the middle of March. Most of us want to know when we can return to normal. But the officials who have cooped us up, shut down businesses, ruined personal finances, outlawed gatherings, and created an environment of fear won’t tell us when we’ll be free of their grip. To call our situation discouraging is to understate the case.

Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control’s most recently posted data set are reason for optimism, though. The chart below shows the most current figures available, through the week of Aug. 15.

The blue bars that indicate actual weekly deaths since January 2017, which have recently been inflated due to COVID-19 fatalities. The roughly horizontal line shows the upper range of expected deaths each week based on historical averages. The two are the closest they have been since March 21, right after the pandemic lockdowns. Based on the trend, we should expect the bars and the baseline to fully converge when the newest data set is released next week. In other words, back to normal.

Another version of the chart (below) separates COVID-19 deaths from all fatalities. The portion of COVID-19 deaths is as small as it has been since the last week of March.

Why is this important? Stanford biophysics professor Michael Levitt explains:

“US COVID19 will be done in 4 weeks with a total reported death below 170,000. How will we know it is over? Like for Europe, when all-cause excess deaths are at normal level for week. Reported COVID19 deaths may continue after 25 Aug. & reported cases will, but it will be over,” he tweeted on July 25.

On Aug. 18, Levitt followed up that tweet with this message:

“Aware of my prediction, here is latest CDC data (dated 1 Aug. posted 12 Aug.)…. Corrected for delays, Excess Death is near baseline so it may be over by 25 Aug. Reported CV Death is 169,350 so my estimate too low. Still happy COVID19 death may be over soon.”

We’re not quite bold enough to proclaim that it’s all over. The data show that after the initial spike and fall, a smaller bump appeared on the charts. It might be explained by the virus moving from the higher latitudes to the lower ones. Or maybe it’s simply a particularly tenacious pest.

Yet we’re upbeat, buoyed by the facts, and Levitt’s experience- and knowledge-based observations. We hope policymakers will look at the data and find it as compelling as we do. We don’t need the “new normal” that many insist we learn to live with but a return to the normal we had before the pandemic frightened officials into panicked decisions.

Editor’s Note: This editorial originally had the name of Stanford professor wrong. It has been corrected. We apologize for the error.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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I & I Editorial Board

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


  • Completely clueless article. You should be ashamed to have published it. There are currently 185000 deaths in America from Covid

    • There were 2 million deaths predicted. 185,000 is what percentage of total population, assuming total population is around 340 million? 0.05% I’ll take those odds any day of the week. How many died from H1N1? 4 million? That’s 1.2 % of the population. We’ve shut our country down for an overblown case of the flu.

    • Clueless but not for the reason you cited. The information about COVID is true, as cases are fizzling out state-by-state across the SE, South, West. Already flamed out in the NE.

      But the Nobel Prize winner of Stanford is Michael Levitt, not William Leaviit as stated in the article multiple times. William Leavitt was a jazz guitarist. Michael Leviit is a Nobel Prize winning biophysicist.

    • No, there isn’t. The CDC itself has admitted massive over-counting and mis-representation when it comes to that statistic. When you have states and hospitals being paid to report ALL deaths as virus related there are going to be major discrepancies. This is simply political at this point; anything to hurt the president. My state has not locked down, I have not worn a mask yet and our lives have been fairly unaffected by this scamdemic. Fact is, the more of these “cases” that are reported, the more the fatality rate continues to drop even further. 99.8% of people get past this virus…99.8. Worth shutting down our country, schools, businesses, causing suicide numbers to rise above the virus numbers? And you tell me this isn’t political?

    • I guess not enough to further your cause to benefit, what, more deaths means more special interest opportunity?

      your comment strikes me as a likely soulless person, I’d say I feel sorry for you, but I don’t like to lie.

    • To me thinking, the actual deaths from Covid-19 through 8/22/20 are 72,527. Go to See Table 1, then look over at the 5th column to the right titled “Deaths involving Covid-19 and Pneumonia excluding Influenza.” Think back to the course of the disease, viral infection, lungs compromised, secondary infection with an opportunistic bacteria, further lung damage leading to cytokine storm/sepsis/death. Now remember that hospitals get paid more for listing Covid-19 as the cause of death, and that they get paid more for having a patient in the ICU and on a ventilator. Follow the money. There have been numerous reports of a Covid-19 cause of death listed on a motorcycle accident and a report of someone who died of sepsis with a kidney infection being listed as Covid-19. Fuzzy math by profit seeking folks is why it’s my opinion that the 72,527 is the more accurate number, and should be a relief to a great many people….

  • Democrat governors and mayors will keep schools and businesses from operating normally until after the election. They are intentionally trying to sabotage the economy.

  • This might be more credible if you got your expert’s name right. It’s Michael Levitt, not William Leavitt. Which is on his twitter, which the article links to. Did anyone edit this at all? Tells you a lot about the care that went into this analysis.

    • Thanks for pointing that out. It’s been corrected. The author must have been listening to jazz when writing the editorial.

  • I remain grim regarding what happened this year, namely, shutting down the country for a “pandemic” that was no different than others. They all vary up and down… we should have rode this out and gone for Herd Immunity. Home of the brave? Indeed. But in truth, it’s a power grab: And now we have to wonder if each season’s virus season instigates a shutdown, at whose orders, for how long, and how sever will each be – both in terms of duration and in economic/social impact? I never did wear a mask and was shocked at how everyone went along with the face diapers.

  • We need to stop focusing on Covid “cases” and focus exclusively on fatalities. At no time do we focus on “cases” of the flu and other diseases/viruses. We always base crisis response on fatalities. Let’s get back to reality and do the same with Covid.

  • In 2017 and 2018, 2.8 million each year, Americans died from all causes. There was no lockdown in 2017 and 2018 because the causes were many and diverse, accidents, drownings, suicide, sickness, crime, old age, natural causes and the thousands of sub categories meant that it’s the reality of life. Given about 350M Americans, that translated to a mortality rate of about 0.74%. Yes. Surprisingly, the CFR of this condition called “Life” is historically 0.74% pre-covid19. Until we find the eternal life elixir, we’re all going to die some day.

    NY and NJ, the two states with the highest death rate (about 0.017% and 0.018% respectively) have seen very low number of cases and deaths – a case can be made that major urban centres near NYC are very likely at or near herd immunity. There was a random serology test done in NYC area supermarkets earlier that showed 30% os samples had antibodies in their system.

    In hindsight, the early stage panic was mainly due to Italy’s numbers which wasn’t clear it it was heading towards 10%+ death rate. We now know this disease is not going to kill 10% of all the people. In fact there is now doubt if it will even kill 1%. Spain, UK, Italy which were the original sources of panic is coming in at around a death rate of 0.06% of their population today. Peru is a potential cause of concern as they show 0.08% of their population has died of COVID-19. The US is currently listing rate of 0.055%.

    Mind you, the numbers can vary by age distribution and underling conditions. The US has a serious concern because obesity and type 2 diabetes is a major contributing factor, and there’s a lot of overweight people in the US that should use this recovery to develop healthier lifestyles in getting more exercise and healthier food.

    • I made a basic math error. the NY and NJ state death rate in their population are 0.17% and 0.18% so far. I had them at 0.017% and 0.018% by mistake.

  • When Biden loses, you may return to mostly normal living. Until that time you will continue to be conned, manipulated, and threatened into herd like behavior.

  • Umm, “the roughly horizontal line that shows the average expected number of deaths” the roughly horizontal line is the threshold for excess deaths not the average expected number of deaths. Wow do some research and fact checking Editorial Board!

  • Deaths from H1N1 in the US was ca 12,500 (not 4 million) as per the CDC

  • Healthy people are no more at risk for COVID than we are for any other RNA virus. The “one size fits all” response was implemented as a control measure, not a safety measure; a global reset, if you will. Arm up, not mask up. The response must be equal to the threat.

    “All we need is the right major crisis, and the nations will accept the New World Order.” -David Rockefeller, 2003

  • As a physician, even before I went into medical school I learned a valuable lesson from the show M*A*S*H that’s applicable:

    Henry Blake says to Hawkeye, “there are two rules in medicine, rule number one, people die, and rule number two, doctors can’t change rule number one!”

    There are several lessons I’ve learned watching this virus play out, but the two biggest ones are, in order: we have learned who is selfless and who is selfish, and second, Death brings out the best and worst in people, and unfortunately, we have seen a lot more of the worst than the best.

    I end with this, when you let politicians use a crisis as a weapon instead of an opportunity to show the electorate why they are accountable leaders, you need to get rid of these charlatans, they aren’t leaders anymore, they’re just tyrants and basically failed human folk.

    You figure it out, be safe and be well.

  • interesting article.

    however, you should at least provide the correct name for the faculty member source. He is Michael Levitt not “William Leavitt”.

    • That was corrected two days ago, with an editors note appended to the editorial noting the correction.

  • CDC reports as of 30 August indicate less than 10,000 actually caused by COVID19, the number 160,000 represents deaths from other causes with COVID present. 160K is a scare number used to control the American people and cause havoc in the marketplace.

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