Multiple signs are starting to point to inflated COVID-19 statistics. In no particular order:
- The New York Times published an article seeming to imply that the COVID-19 death toll is much, much higher than estimated because total deaths are up. This is a clever twist that will ensure that governors are never questioned about the wisdom of their reactions to the disease, because every death that is a consequence of the shutdown (like despair-driven suicides and overdoses) will actually count toward the total of the virus, thus validating their decisions.
- The Daily Wire reported on suspicions among funeral directors that COVID-19 is being put on death certificates when it wasn’t actually the cause of death. A source in Rhode Island tells me that this is happening here, with families expressing bewilderment that the disease is being blamed for their loved-ones’ deaths.
- WPRI seems to have confirmed my suspicions that Rhode Islands new method of counting COVID-19 hospitalizations entails counting people who “have been admitted to the hospital for unrelated reasons — but test postive for the disease” (in WPRI’s words). That is the direction in which my own correspondence with a Dept. of Health was headed. As the spokesman told me, “What we are now getting is reports based on lab confirmation of COVID-19, regardless of where the person is in the hospital system.” I haven’t been able to confirm, but “where the person is in the hospital system” seems like it might include anything, including quick out-patient visits.
- USA Today has reported that the federal government is creating incentive for hospitals to classify patients as COVID-19 illnesses by reimbursing more for Medicare patients if the coronavirus is part of the mix.
Thus, today, the number of hospitalizations continues to climb whereas two days ago it was drifting down. As I suggested yesterday, we just can’t trust these numbers any longer. For instance, while the top-line number suggested for deaths in Rhode Island looks like it increased by 13 people, more than half of the increase is attributable to revisions of earlier numbers, going back weeks. In actuality, the one-day increase is listed as six people.
Some good news, however, can be found in the decreasing number of patients in intensive care (presumably despite the broader definition for when they count as COVID-19 patients). Additionally, the rate of increase of total cases continues to go down. In fact, the 14-day infection rate (by which I approximate how many people each person with the disease is infecting, on average) is almost to one, below which the disease is fading completely away.
- Projection for 5/1: 8,802
- Actual for 5/1: 8,962
- Projection for 5/2: 9,132
- Projection for 5/1: 322
- Actual for 5/1: 352
- Projection for 5/2: 341
- Projection for 5/1: 272
- Actual for 5/1: 279
- Projection for 5/2: 284