He is Donald Trump 2.0. You know, the guy with slicked-back dark hair and an affinity for putting our kids in the line of fire for the coronavirus Delta variant. We cannot see any hint of empathy, but do hear a strong sucking-up sound as he crawls out of the Florida swamp to give his rich friends a popup vaccine experience.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that the Delta variant could easily bring about the “most serious and deadly surge in COVID-19 infections since the beginning of the pandemic.”
There have been so many cases in Florida that Governor Ron DeSantis (R) decided to have his state Department of Health alter how it reported its death data to the CDC. The numbers trick made it appear that the pandemic was declining. However, that was a lie.
The Miami Herald did an investigation, and its results showed that there was an average of 262 deaths per day. However, DeSantis’ altered reality showed only 46 “new deaths” each day for the past seven days.
Three weeks ago the Department of Health (DOH) data on the CDC website was a result of counting deaths by date on which they were recorded, which is common among states. Then, on August 10, old DeSantis and his magic number counting “machine” began adding up new deaths by the date the individual died.
This even if there was a spike, his numbers would basically show deaths declining. There was a reason for using the traditional method of counting:
‘[I] t takes time for deaths to be evaluated and death certificates processed. When those deaths finally are tallied, they are assigned to the actual data of death — creating a spike where there once existed a downslope and moving the downslope forward in time.’
Social epidemiologist and assistant professor at Emory University Shivani Patel called the move to the “artificial decline” as “extremely problematic.”
DOH spokesperson Weesam Khoury gave the Herald a statement:
‘As a result of data discrepancies that have occurred, this week, FDOH worked quickly and efficiently with CDC to ensure accurate display of data on their website the same day. To proactively ensure accurate data is consistently displayed, the Department will begin daily submission of a complete renewed set of case data to CDC, including retrospective COVID-19 cases.’
The DOH did not inform the CDC it had altered its methodology. Patel said:
‘It shouldn’t be left to the public, to scientists, national policy makers or the media to guess as to what these numbers are. We know from the beginning that dates matter and that they tell us different things.’
Epidemiologist at the University of South Florida Jason Salemi has tracked the state’s COVID data:
‘Deaths by date of death curve is the most accurate you can get. You know exactly when people died, you know how to construct the curve and exactly when we were experiencing surges in terms of deaths.’
‘When you have big surges in deaths, the deaths by date reported will always show an increase while deaths by date occurred will go down. Someone could have died yesterday and we may not know about it for a week, or two weeks. As a result, new death trends as reported by the Florida health department are significantly lower when data are first reported and don’t immediately reflect the actual number of people who died that day.’
‘During surges of cases and deaths, averaging seven days of deaths by report date provides an important early indicator of how many people have recently died of the disease — a number that will eventually be reflected in the data by date of death.’
Economist Tim Harford, author of The Data Detective spoke about the statistical sleight of hand as a “matter of life and death:”
‘When numbers are presented in a flattering light, an expert will generally be able to see through the dazzle quite quickly. That said, I still think the truthful-yet-deceptive framing of numbers is a serious problem. COVID is a matter of life and death and people deserve to have information that is both accurate and understandable without having to decode it.’
Three White Lions podcast, Gloria Christie reads her week’s most important news/ commentary stories in the liberal online newspaper The Bipartisan Report. Gloria Christie Report her newsletter for people on the go. Written in her own unique style with a twist of humor in a briefer version of Bipartisan Report. Christie’s Mueller Report Adventures In Bite-Sizes a real-life compelling spy mystery. Find her here on Facebook.