The press corps is eager to help: All through May and June, deaths from coronavirus were on the decline in this country.
From more than 2000 deaths per day in mid-April, the average number of deaths per day declined to just a bit more than five hundred by the end of June.
In part because the anti-Trump press likes to talk about things getting worse, the press corps made a switch during this period They largely stopped discussing deaths and started discussing "cases."
In many ways, this was a dumb idea.
Why is the focus on "cases" dumb? In part, because no one knows how many "cases" (how many infections) there actually are.
We're constantly told that the actual number of cases may be ten times the reported number. (The actual number may be ten times the number of "confirmed cases.") By contrast, the number of deaths is relatively easy to track, although there's no perfect assessment there either.
It's dumb to discuss the number of "cases" when you have no idea what the actual number of cases is. That said, it's also unwise to focus on "cases" because that focus lets Commander-in-chief Donald J. Trump make all kinds of misleading presentations.
Watching Trump with Jonathan Swan of Axios, it seems to us that Trump actually believes his current crazy claim
—the claim that we're doing a better job with the virus than comparable nations are.
Our impaired commander supports that claim by discussing a somewhat marginal statistic called "case fatality rate." Also, by making a claim which contains an element of truth, though only to a point:
It's true! A country which does a lot of testing is going to find more "cases" than a comparable country which does less testing. When he speaks with someone like Swan, Trump jumbles that claim together with charts about "case fatality rate," ending up with the claim that we're doing a better job than all the other nations.
As we've watched his interview with Swan, it seems to us that Trump actually believes what he's saying. And sure enough! Like Chris Wallace before him, Swan wasn't ready to confront Trump with jaw-dropping data like these:
Deaths from coronavirus in the past seven days,It's true! None of those other countries are as large in population as the United States. But when the difference in absolute numbers is that vast, you don't have to "adjust for population" in order to see the lunacy of Trump's latest claim.
as of August 4:
United States: 7,392
South Korea: 1
That said, the Wallaces and the Swans are never ready to confront Trump with those basic statistics. Beyond that, you don't see those gruesome data in newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post as they attempt to discuss the commander's latest lunacy.
On CNN today, they've just continued to talk about "cases." The astonishing difference in daily/weekly deaths never seems to get mentioned.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our upper-end journalists seem to be unable to handle a topic like this. It lies beyond their intellectual range. Counterintuitive though that may seem, it's a basic fact of the case.