SATURDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2020
California dreamin': Kevin Drum asks a very good question in this new "Fact of the Day" post.
As a follow-up to our own report from this morning, we'll answer that very good question.
Drum starts by asking this question:
Why are journalists writing so many reports claiming that the pandemic is out of control in California?
Drum notes that California has actually been below the national average for new Covid cases over the past few months. Similarly, when we compiled the data we posted this morning, we were surprised to note that California is way below the national average for ongoing Covid deaths.
Why were we surprised by that fact? Because we'd just seen this morning's Washington Post report, which makes it sound like California is in extremely bad shape pandemic-wise.
California is running below the national average when it comes to new Covid cases. California is way below the national average when it comes to new Covid deaths. And yet, reporting continues which gives a different impression.
At this point, Drum asks his very good question. His question, which is perhaps rhetorical, goes exactly like this:
DRUM (12/5/20): First, as goes the country, so goes California. We’re just following the overall trend. Second, for the past couple of months we’ve been substantially below the national average. I suppose you can say that cases in California are “raging out of control” simply because COVID-19 is raging out of control practically everywhere, but that’s pretty deceptive. In fact, California is doing relatively well. As of yesterday, we were about one-quarter below the national average.
So what’s with the news coverage? Can’t these folks do simple division?
"So what’s with the news coverage?" Drum asks. "Can’t these [upper-end journalists] do simple division?"
We're happy to answer that very good question. Actually, no! Judging from appearances, they pretty much just plain can't!
What follows is an anthropological finding, endorsed by top major experts:
Our journalists are skilled at performing narrative. They don't do very much else.
For figure filberts only: Average daily Covid deaths, per million population, for the seven days ending December 2:
Daily deaths per million population, as of 12/2:
South Dakota: 29.7
North Dakota: 15.0
United States, nationwide: 5.4
New Jersey: 4.6
New York (state): 3.0
Go ahead, filberts! Go figure!