Also, decline in deaths restored: Does anybody understand the tricky statistic called "cases?" This is why we ask:
Yesterday, Dr. Fauci made a comment which launched a million reports. Here's the way the comment is presented atop the front page of this morning's Washington Post:
GEARAN (7/1/20): Staggered by the resurgent novel coronavirus, cities and states are reinstituting restrictions on bars, pools and large gatherings days ahead of July 4 celebrations as the top U.S. infectious-disease expert warned Tuesday that the pandemic is out of control in some places and soon could reach 100,000 [new] cases a day.According to this remark, new infections (new "cases") are now topping 40,000 per day. But we could go as high as 100,000 new cases per day!
Nationally, new infections have topped 40,000 in four of the past five days during an accelerating outbreak that exceeds the worst days of April.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he would not be surprised to see the number of new infections more than double, from over 40,000 a day now to 100,000 a day.
(Gearan et al. failed to include the word "new" in their opening paragraph. They made Fauci's meaning more clear a bit later on.)
We could go as high as 100,000 new cases per day? Does anyone understand that remark? This is why we ask:
Just last week, the head of the CDC said that the actual number of total cases to date may be as much as ten times the current recorded number. This is the way the Washington Post reported that assessment:
SUN (6/26/20): The number of people in the United States who have been infected with the coronavirus is likely to be 10 times as high as the 2.4 million confirmed cases, based on antibody tests, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.That was Redfield's assessment of the overall number of "cases" (infections) to date. We're saying the number is 2.4 million, but the actual number could be as high as 24 million!
CDC Director Robert Redfield’s estimate, shared with reporters in a conference call, indicates that at least 24 million Americans have been infected so far.
That's what Redfield said. He was speaking about total infections to date. That doesn't necessarily mean that the number of new cases on any given day is actually ten times as high as the number which is being reported.
Still, if we're dealing with a factor of ten, isn't it possible that we're already experiencing 100,000 new infections (new cases) per day, with only 40,000 of those new infections being diagnosed and recorded? If not, why not? Do you have the slightest idea?
When it comes to covid-19 statistics, deaths are easy, cases are hard. It seems to us that there are a hundred ways to get confused about "cases," with some journalists striving to dabble in every one.
Deaths are more straightforward, though inconsistent reporting procedures create confusions even there, as New Jersey showed last week.
For ourselves, we're prepared to report a bit of superficial good news: yesterday, nationwide deaths declined again. (We're using the Washington Post numbers, adjusted for the retroactive dump of old deaths New Jersey engineered on June 25.)
Nationwide, we closed the month with the lowest seven-day average since the good old days of mid-March. Below, we make an up-to-the-minute addition to the numbers we posted yesterday:
Daily deaths, nationwide, 7-day rolling averageThe rate of decline has slowed—but as of yesterday, the decline was still occurring. Yesterday's seven-day average was the lowest such number yet, unless you let a skew occur based on those retroactive New Jersey numbers.
May 25-May 31: 915.6
June 1-June 7: 803.4
June 8-June 14: 710.9
June 15-June 21: 585.9
June 24-June 30: 543.9
At the end of May, the seven-day average stood at 915.6 deaths per day. After yesterday's numbers were released, the seven-day average at the end of June stood at 543.9.
That's a big decline, but it may not continue. Meanwhile, news orgs now focus on "cases," a rather slippery statistic which offers quite a few pathways to confusion and incomprehension.
In closing, we return to our basic question:
Based on what Redfield said, is it possible that we're already experiencing 100,000 new infections (new cases) per day, only 40,000 of which are being recorded?
Is it possible that this is true? Of one thing you can be certain—no one is going to ask!