That prediction of 3000 deaths per day?


June's here, and it hasn't happened:
Way back when, on May 5, the news report we have in mind was a big honkin' deal.

It appeared on the New York Times front page.
On cable, it produced several tons of excitement.

Coronavirus deaths were going to soar! Ignore what Trump has been saying:
STOLBERG AND SULLIVAN (5/5/20): As President Trump presses states to reopen their economies, his administration is privately projecting a steady rise in coronavirus infections and deaths over the next several weeks, reaching about 3,000 daily deaths on June 1—nearly double the current level.

The projections, based on data collected by various agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and laid out in an internal document obtained Monday by The New York Times, forecast about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of May, up from about 30,000 cases now. There are currently about 1,750 deaths per day, the data shows.
Good lord! As of May 5, the United States was suffering roughly 1,750 coronavirus deaths per day. According to the Times report, the Trump administration was privately projecting that the number would rise to roughly 3000 deaths per day by June 1!

In one fairly obvious way, the alleged projections didn't quite seem to make sense. If the number of coronavirus cases was going to rise all the way to 200,000 per day, why would the number of daily deaths rise to only 3000?

In the midst of all the excitement, we never saw that fairly obvious question asked or answered. And uh-oh! By 12 noon that very same day, NPR was already suggesting that the Times had possibly run with a set of projections which weren't exactly real.

That New York Times front-page report created a lot of buzz. By now, though, the first of June has come and gone, and those 3000 deaths per day haven't.

According to the numbers compiled by the Washington Post,
the United States has averaged 765.3 coronavirus deaths per day in the first eight days of June. That pre-existing number in May didn't nearly double. Instead, it's dropped by well more than half.

We don't know where the numbers will go from here. We offer this update as a bit of a warning:

You can't necessarily believe the things you read on the Times' front page. With that in mind, was that alleged private projection ever an actual real projection? Or did the New York Times perhaps get out over its skis?

No one will ever remember or ask. The game isn't played that way.


  1. "You can't necessarily believe the things you read on the Times' front page."

    Nor on any other page, dear Bob. And not just "can't necessarily believe", but we should, in fact, assume that the exact opposite is true.

    But we do believe we know why they printed all those lies, dear Bob: to sow panic and prevent the US economy from opening. Thus giving your zombie cult a better chance to grab power. But we'll see.

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  2. I'd like to see the raw data, and an explanation of how the Trump Administration interpreted it to project 3,000 daily deaths from the virus by June 1st.
    Any chance the Times will put it online?

  3. “You can't necessarily believe the things you read on the Times' front page. With that in mind, was that alleged private projection ever an actual real projection? Or did the New York Times perhaps get out over its skis?”

    The projection, which was linked to in the Times report, was an official one, titled “Centers for disease control and prevention situation update.”

    It is here:

    How can the Times be over its skis if they are merely citing an official government report?

  4. “the number of coronavirus cases was going to rise all the way to 200,000 per day, why would the number of daily deaths rise to only 3000?

    In the midst of all the excitement, we never saw that fairly obvious question asked or answered.”

    That is what the report projected.

  5. "the Times had possibly run with a set of projections which weren't exactly real."

    No projection is real. All projections are estimates of some event that hasn't taken place yet. You only find out after those events occur, how close the projection was to reality.

    Somerby doesn't use correct language to talk about this stuff because he doesn't understand it very well. If he did, his own words would sound wrong to him and he wouldn't say such stupid things.

  6. Somerby shouldn't crow about the low number of deaths too soon. New cases are higher in several states that have partially opened up. That means deaths will increase too.

    Trump has an interest in overestimating the number of deaths, because he can seem like a hero when they turn out to be lower than projected. There has been an ongoing discussion of the merits of various models, of which Somerby seems unaware.

    The number of deaths don't have to be related to the number of cases when testing has been unevenly available, treatment methods and hospital resources are unevenly available, and the demographics of those afflicted affects their outcomes differently (type A blood results in more serious cases for example). That all makes it difficult to figure out how many deaths there will be from the number of cases. You would have to dig into the specifics of the model to understand how the numbers were produced.

    But more than that, I object to Somerby's use of death statistics to play gotcha with the NY Times. This isn't a game to sick or at risk people and their families. Somerby gives no evidence that he understands that behind every number there are real people whose deaths matter.

    Somerby says we should assume bad faith about these models when they turn out wrong. It doesn't work that way. All models tend to be wrong to some extent because you are dealing with the unknown. This is a new virus. How on earth can Somerby tell people to ignore estimates when that is the only type of information available to us? Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. When deaths are lower than predicted, thank God and continue the measures that have resulted in lower death rates. Blaming the NY Times for a CDC estimate that was likely the best they could do at the time, makes no sense at all. Somerby thinks he's put the finger on some error, but that's only because he doesn't think about what these numbers are about. Maybe thinking about the virus is too scary for him to handle. In that case, he'd do better to stick to what he can talk about intelligently, whatever that is.

  7. This is a hoot.

    It’s gone from “You’re going to kill everyone in the country!” to “No prob.”

    Two months from now- “Well, the goal was never to abolish the police or to stop funding them.”

    1. It's a real hoot that you support a fascist thug

    2. Two months ago: The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.

      Today: Who is dumb enough to think there are good guys with guns?

      The amoral dumpster fire that is the Right-wing, ladies and gentlemen.

    3. I haven't seen Cecelia this giddy, since one of her betters shot-up a roomful of First Graders in Sandy Hook.

    4. “You’re going to kill everyone in the country!”

      Granny. The currently discarded zombie talking point was 'social distancing or you're killing granny'.

      But who cares about the granny, when now, apparently, they're funneling donations sent to the 'protesters' by idiots from all over the world to the DNC and 'Rapist Joe for president'.

    5. Mao,
      Your desperation is hilarious.

  8. Anonymouse5:13pm, that makes no sense.

    What conservative is saying that there are no good people who own guns?

  9. I’m not giddy, Anonymouse 5:16 pm, and I did react to the Mediaite piece reflexively.

    It was a stupid comment.

  10. Meanwhile voter suppression is getting a dry run in Georgia. But on to more important matters, why are fascist right wingers so goddamn putrid?

  11. I have seen a lot of bad, complex models in my professional career. It's easy to make a bunch of plausible assumptions and combine them into a model. However, when the assumptions are really educated guesses, the model is apt to be worthless. The more complex the model, the more ways for it to be wrong. Also, many of these models have enough flexibility in the possible assumptions that the modeler can get pretty much any results s/he wants.

    Many people are impressed with a model's complexity and thus give it more credence than it deserves.

    1. How many did you see in your unprofessional career?

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