MONDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2020
Breaking elementary rules, displays intellectual skill: In yesterday's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof broke every rule in the book.
Conduct like this is rarely observed. Concerning the possible spread of the virus, Kristof displayed some basic intellectual skill:
KRISTOF (10/4/20): The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts that 363,000 Americans will have died of Covid-19 by Jan. 1. That would amount to more Americans dying in nine months from the virus than the total number of combat deaths over four years in World War II.
Think about that. As a country, we’re still seared by the nearly 3,000 deaths in the 9/11 attacks. But the institute’s model warns that by the end of December, we’ll be losing that many each day.
Say what? According to a major projection, we'll be experiencing nearly 3,000 Covid-19 deaths per day by the end of the year?
So said Kristof, correctly describing the current projection by the University of Washington's IHME. We discussed that institute's projection back on September 23.
We did so when Lester Holt reported on the projection. He did so, in the least informative possible way, on NBC Nightly News.
Holt reported the total number of deaths the IHME was projecting to take place by the end of the year. In doing so, he completely buried the lede:
Holt reported the total number of deaths the IHME was projecting. He didn't report the remarkable increase in the daily and weekly death rate this new projection entailed.
The IHME's projection is just a projection, of course. Nothing says that it will be right. Almost surely, it will be wrong to some minor (or major) extent.
That said, Kristof actually managed to report the major part of the IHME's projection. By the end of the year, almost 3,000 Americans will be dying from the virus on a daily basis!
That projection compares to our current rate of roughly 700 daily deaths. That projected daily death rate would be substantially higher than the 2,000 daily deaths we briefly experienced, for roughly two weeks, back in mid-April.
Will the IHME projection turn out to be basically accurate? We have no way of knowing.
We do know this—the IHME is predicting a serious killing field as of the end of the year. It was a marker of our press corps' flyweight analytical level when Holt blew past this gruesome part of the IHME's projection.
Meanwhile, this horrible projection gains added meaning as the commander in chief continues to say and suggest that the dying is pretty much over.
As we noted earlier, this new projection by the IHME produced barely a blip of reporting or discussion when it appeared. Holt did report the projection on Nightly News, but he (and his correspondents) thoroughly buried the lede.
Two weeks later, Kristof has journeyed to this link and offered a more granular account of what the IHME is projecting. That projection of nearly 3,000 deaths per day flies in the face of what Donald J. Trump has been cheerfully saying.
The projection will be imperfect. But the IHME is projecting disaster, and the band has largely kept playing on.