Cases still rising, deaths still decline!

MONDAY, JULY 6, 2020

Can we walk and chew gum at one time?:
When we read the reporter's identity line, we knew we were in good hands.

Her report appeared on July 3 at the New York Times. The report appeared online only. It never appeared in print editions of the Times.

Her report concerned a "counterintuitive" fact. Even as coronavirus "cases" are rising nationwide, coronavirus deaths continue a steep decline.

Below, you see the headlines which appear above her report. You also see the reporter's identity line:
U.S. Coronavirus Cases Are Rising Sharply, but Deaths Are Still Down

This seemingly counterintuitive trend might not last, experts said. But the nation can still learn from the decline.


[...]

[NAME WITHHELD] is a reporter for The Times, where she covers science and health. She holds a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunobiology from Harvard University.
With credentials like those, we could hardly go wrong! As it turned out, WITHHELD graduated from Stanford in 2014. She received her doctorate from Harvard four years later.
Today, she reports for the Times. Right in her first two paragraphs, she—or perhaps some meddling editor—decided to tell us this:
WITHHELD (7/3/20): After a minor late-spring lull, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States is once again on the rise. States like Arizona, Florida and Texas are seeing some of their highest numbers to date, and as the nation hurtles further into summer, the surge shows few signs of stopping.

And yet the virus appears to be killing fewer of the people it infects. In April and May, Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, led to as many as 3,000 deaths per day, and claimed the lives of roughly 7 to 8 percent of Americans known to have been infected. The number of daily deaths is now closer to 600, and the death rate is less than 5 percent.
Frankly, we were puzzled.

For the prior three days, the 7-day average of daily deaths—except for some specialized purpose, there's no other sensible way to report this statistic—had actually been closer to 500 than to 600.

More significantly, we were puzzled by the claim about the "3,000 deaths per day" which had sometimes been recorded in April and May.

We checked the New York Times database to which the reporter linked. When we did, we saw that those data included exactly zero days when the reported death count in the U.S. ever went as high as 3,000.

Then we clicked the other link in those two paragraphs. When we did, we were taken to this capsule report by David Leonhardt—a July 2 capsule report which actually said this:
"Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. have been falling for most of the last 10 weeks—to about 600 a day recently, down from more than 2,000 in late April."
Even Leonhardt may have been pushing it a bit with that "about 600 a day" statistic. But somehow, WITHHELD (or her editor) saw Leonhardt say "more than 2,000 in late April" and decided the story would be better if that accurate statement was changed to this more exciting claim:
"In April and May, Covid-19 led to as many as 3,000 deaths per day."
That wasn't what the Times database said. That wasn't what Leonhardt had said.

But now, it was what the New York Times said! Indeed, as Leonhardt's accurate statement was drowned in the harbor, the online report was executing the press corps' great motto and watchword:
No embellishment left behind!
No embellishment left behind! It's a time-honored way of life.

Do mainstream reporters always embellish? Actually, no, they don't.

That said, our own reporting at this site is "all anthropology now." And the world-class experts with whom we consult assure us that the impulse to exaggerate is very much bred in the bone of our war-inclined, tribal species.

They refer us to Professor Harari's endlessly best-selling book.
Our brains are wired to induce us to tell thrilling tribal tales, these despondent experts all say.

Concerns about "accuracy" are a much later cultural addition routinely honored in the breach. Or so these scholars insist.

Whatever! We offer this as an introduction to the latest actual data.

In his own July 3 post, Kevin Drum had once again noted the somewhat puzzling battle between cases and deaths, making this accurate statement:
"As we all know, the number of COVID-19 cases is skyrocketing but the COVID-19 death rate is continuing to decline."
So Drum correctly said. (Admittedly, he was referring to something which very few people know.)

We've been following these data too, in part due to our fascination with the way this topic is being reported:

On cable, deaths have virtually disappeared. Only "cases" are now discussed.

In print, "cases" has become the default statistic, replacing the previous "deaths." And everywhere, statistics tend to be overstated. Sometimes, if it weren't for all the overstatements, there would be no statements at all!

Are we humans able to walk and chew gum at the same time? As a species, could we handle a public discussion in which we were told about the rise in cases and about the decline in deaths, with possible explanations offered?

Would we be able to handle that? Anthropologists say we probably could—but they despondently add that this hypothesis will likely never be tested.

At any rate, here we go:

The rise in (recorded/confirmed) cases is indeed a major, significant fact. Will this rise in (recorded) cases eventually lead to a renewed rise in deaths?

Life is easier, and more exciting, when such questions aren't asked. But just for the record, here are some 7-day rolling averages, including the 7-day rolling average as it currently stands:
Daily deaths from covid-19, nationwide;
7-day rolling average

May 18-May 24: 1136.9
May 25-May 31: 916.1

June 1-June 7: 806.4
June 8-June 14: 713.6
June 15-June 21: 586.4
June 24-June 30: 538.7

June 29-July 5: 477.1
(We're using the Washington Post's numbers. We've gone back and made adjustments based on changes the Post has made in the numbers it originally posted.

(We've adjusted for the 1,854 retroactive "probable" deaths New Jersey dumped into the system on June 25. The current average may turn out to be artificially low due to reduced reporting over a 3-day holiday weekend.)

The 7-day average still exceeded one thousand deaths per day as late as May 25 (1093.7 deaths per day, May 19-May 25). Since then, it has dropped all the way down to the current 477.1 deaths per day. That number may be artificially low, though probably not by any giant amount.

Don't get us wrong! Even that reduced number is a sign of our rolling national failure.

Elsewhere, there are very few daily deaths at this point. That's true in Germany, and even in initially hard-hit Italy and France.

Elsewhere, daily deaths are few. Our own vastly reduced number of deaths remains a sign of our national failure, a failure which leads directly to the disordered person who currently sits in the White House.

All roads lead to Donald J. Trump, whose apparent cognitive and/or psychiatric impairment our "press corps" will won't discuss. Still, we'd like to see a serious attempt to analyze the "counterintuitive" coexistence of the rise in cases and the decline in deaths.

Why haven't nationwide deaths begun to rise again? We'd like to see that basic question discussed—but at such moments, despondent anthropologists rush to remind us of our species' inheritance:

"We simply weren't wired for such discussions," these despairing scholars exclaim, ominously referring to our specie in the past tense. At that point, they turn and shamble back into their caves. Soon, loud weeping is heard.

Is that death rate likely to rise again? We'd like to see the question discussed.

But that would require a serious discussion of an obvious question—and that had ceased to be a part of our culture back when Arianna sewed that fourth button on the disfavored candidate's deeply troubling suit. It represented a 33% increase in deeply troubling buttons!

Remember, our work at this site is all anthropology now! If you want to hear preapproved tribal tales, you'll have to go somewhere else.

Why haven't deaths been shooting up...: Why haven't deaths been shooting up, even in states where "cases" have been skyrocketing?

Provisional answers have floated around. Silly us! We wonder which ones may be correct!

At any rate, the doctorate came from Harvard itself. But sure enough! Right there in paragraph 2, the statistical claim was embellished!

Even after twenty-two years, we still find the pattern surprising. But its incidence never declines, and we're told that it never will!

44 comments:

  1. The reason the decline in deaths might not last is that when there are greatly increased cases, hospitals can become swamped and then they cannot care for the most serious cases effectively. As a result, more of those serious cases die and also the other types of critical illnesses and injuries cannot be cared for properly and they too die in greater numbers. (They are not typically included in the Covid death rates, but they are nevertheless dead).

    Somerby is pretending ignorance and being obtuse in order to mock a person who may not even deserve blame for whatever wrong Somerby hints may have been committed. It is very unclear what he is even complaining about, since his most frequently repeated complaint is that this journalist went to Stanford and Harvard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll play deadrat here.
      You don't know if Somerby is feigning ignorance, or if Somerby is actually just a huge ignoramous.
      He keeps repeating Right-wing gripes, so I'm leaning toward Somerby's ignorance not being feigned, but I'm no mind reader.

      Delete
    2. Simple. Somerby is a Trumptard.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous @12:11P,

      Now you're getting it!

      TDH says that the declining death rate is "something which very few people know." (Emphasis original) I knew and so did people who watched a series called "Corona Virus Update" on the YouTube channel VoiceOfThunder owned by a (non-medical) research scientist named Phil Mason.

      TDH asks and comments, "Why haven't nationwide deaths begun to rise again? We'd like to see that basic question discussed...." apparently unaware that (as mh points out) his own source answers his question.

      He nevertheless says, "Provisional answers have floated around. Silly us! We wonder which ones may be correct!" So he has seen the answers discussed? But it's clear that no one knows yet which ones (or combination of such), if any, are correct.

      Ignorance is at play here. Is it feigned? A result of laziness? An attempt to further a nefarious agenda? I don't know, as, like you, I'm no mind reader.

      By the way, the fact that the media doesn't emphasize the decline in COVID-19 deaths isn't a rightwing gripe. Their gripe is that reports about the disease constitute a hoax.

      Delete
    4. We're all either Trumptards or suicidal now.

      Delete
    5. ' An attempt to further a nefarious agenda?'

      You got it. The agenda of getting Trump re-elected.

      Oh, and the rw media has various levels of craziness. the craziest claim the virus is a hoax, others that the virus's death toll is being overestimated, others still that the drop in death rates isn't being properly reported.

      Trumptards like TDH pick and choose which one they claim to be concerned about.

      Delete
    6. There is a wide and useful chasm between mind reading and excessive literalism.

      Some cling to excessive literalism because they do not have the cognitive ability to do otherwise.

      There is no shame in this.

      What is Truth?

      TDH is performance art.

      Delete

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      EX GIRLFRIEND Tucker Conrad
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  2. "Provisional answers have floated around. Silly us! We wonder which ones may be correct!"

    Has Somerby considered the idea that different answers might explain the situation in different parts of the country?

    ReplyDelete
  3. "All roads lead to Donald J. Trump, whose apparent cognitive and/or psychiatric impairment our "press corps" will won't discuss. "

    Here is a discussion:

    https://www.politicususa.com/2020/07/05/opinion-a-crazy-trump-betraying-america-is-less-heartbreaking-than-the-likely-truth.html

    She says:

    "During this past week, there was yet another debate over Trump’s sanity, which to be honest, is beside the point.

    Crazy or not, Trump is a danger to Americans, to our troops and to the democratic political system. But a crazy Trump is preferable to the very real possibility that the president and commander-in-chief betrayed our troops to Vladimir Putin.

    Having a crazy Trump is less painful than having a Trump who deliberately withheld PPE from our healthcare professionals. It doesn’t hurt as much as knowing that our president is dividing us by race, religion, gender, by state and by political preference."

    and her essay goes on...

    ReplyDelete
  4. “Why haven't nationwide deaths begun to rise again? We'd like to see that basic question discussed”

    This is what the reporter says in paragraph 3:

    “In general, experts see three broad reasons for the downward trend in the rate of coronavirus deaths: testing, treatment and a shift in whom the virus is infecting. The relative contribution of these factors is not yet clear.”

    The rest of her story discusses each of these three points in turn.

    Is Somerby trolling his readers, or what? Does he expect them not to read the articles he quotes?

    ReplyDelete
  5. "Our own vastly reduced number of deaths remains a sign of our national failure, a failure which leads directly to the disordered person who currently sits in the White House."

    Hmm, speaking like a true dembot again, dear Bob?

    Unless you're confused, imagining that Mario's son Andrew Cuomo and his comrades from NJ and CT currently sit in the White House?

    ReplyDelete
  6. ...incidentally, dear Bob:

    "...and claimed the lives of roughly 7 to 8 percent of Americans known to have been infected"

    The number of deaths as "percent of Americans known to be infected" has gotta be the dumbest metric EVAH. This has gotta be some sort of world record.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Stop reporting these facts.

    We need you to be fearful and submissive so that we can crush you.

    We need to make you powerless so we can tell you what to say and think and get you fired or imprisoned or killed when you refuse to submit.

    We need to make you tolerant of feral animals in your streets and slaughter of police officers.

    We need to make sure we can despise and commit violence against white people with impunity, while white people can be charged with crimes for defending themselves.

    Stop undermining our efforts to make you submit to our unhinged, depraved, criminal and amoral leftist agenda.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thoughts and prayers over the death of your dear, dear, white supremacy.
      I wish you all the best in your struggle to go on.

      Delete
    2. I live in a solidly red state. It's nice and peaceful because we have Republican mayors and a Republican governor. No danger at all of the thugs trashing our communities. We won't permit it.

      Bonus, we're all well-armed and getting better-armed.

      Delete
    3. Message found clutched in one hand of another victim, dead from COVID-19 as the result of the malfeasance of the Republicans he helped elect. He didn't look that peaceful, which is no surprise as the virus destroys the lungs, leaving its sufferers gasping until their last tortured breath.

      He had a gun clutched in the other hand, apparently ineffective against COVID-2. Go figure.

      Delete
    4. Look how paralyzed with fear Deadrat has become.

      Her panic is not supported by data.

      Democrats are victimizing the vulnerable weak.

      Delete
  8. Democrats are naturally weak and gullible so it's no wonder they're eager to put on a mask and remain locked in their homes, no questions asked, when government demands they do so.

    Republicans are skeptical and critical of government, and do not do what they are told without an evidence-based reason.

    Can you imagine the complete lack of compliance with ANY government mandates related to covid if Witch Clinton were president?

    Another reason we are fortunate that Trump is in office. No need for a mass rebellion against a crooked lying leftist power grabbing government.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'epublicans are skeptical and critical of government, and do not do what they are told without an evidence-based reason.'

      Yup, the same Republicans who swallow cops stories in shootings uncritically. Right ....

      Right Wingers are unscientific morons who follow leaders such as Hitler and Trump.

      Delete
    2. A College Republican running from an Army recruiter would beat Usain Bolt in a footrace every time.

      Delete
    3. This new anon is better at trolling than Somerby is.

      Delete
    4. Let's just enjoy our moment of consensus on Trump's superior effectiveness in handling this covid outbreak, from his early action to his trustworthiness as one not inclined to locking citizens in their homes and ruining the economy as measures toward totalitarian control.

      Delete
    5. Y'know, every flu season you always know a few people around you who get sick, stay in bed for a few days. And this 'terrible pandemic', has anyone in your immediate circle got sick?

      Delete
    6. I know someone who died also. It wasn't pretty.

      Delete
    7. I also knew people who died, for various reasons. But that's neither here nor there. People die all the time.

      I'll even accept that many recent deaths are a consequence of this 'pandemic' hysteria, most obvious case being Andrew Cuomo banning paramedics from administering resuscitation.

      Still, the feel of it, if we ignore the hysteria, it doesn't even rise to the level of a normal flu season.

      Delete
    8. Boris, you should check outside your cubicle. There are 10K+ dead in Russia already.

      Delete
  9. Send the kids back to school you low IQ leftist nitwits.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The desperate cry of parents forced to actually spend time with the little monsters they birthed. You don't like your brats now? Just wait until the little disease vectors come back from prematurely-opened schools.

      Delete
  10. Tom Verducci wrote this great story from the perspective of a real Boston Globe sports reporter who covered the Red Sox. After a lot of people died, it seemed like the flu went away. They opened up everything and then the flu came back. With a lot of places opening we will see what happens in the next few weeks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With online learning as an option, and in some cases, the only option, I don’t think schools and colleges will ever be the same again.



      Delete
  11. this explains what is going on as well as anything. https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1280305393516904448.html

    ReplyDelete
  12. Deaths were in fact over 3,000 per day:

    https://www.seattle-data.com/countries/united-states-of-america

    I think maybe Somberly is using a 7-day rolling average--in which case, that would not be the case. I am pulling the data from the NY Times github repository.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yes, the NY Times site Bob refers to uses a 7-day rolling average. That is why it looks like an individual day is not up to 3,000.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Re "Why haven't deaths been shooting up?"

    Well, one might ask "How many days does it take to dies from COVID-19?" If one had an answer to that question one might be able to see what the correlation actually is between cases identified and deaths.

    It doesn't happen in one day! If it takes two weeks to die from this, then we would expect deaths to be a lagging indicator, spiking two weeks after a spike in new cases.

    ReplyDelete
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