Thursday, April 16, 2020


We've heard right-wingers say many times that the current projections for covid-19 deaths in the U.S. make the disease seem no more lethal than the seasonal flu in a bad year. In 2018-2019, for instance, the flu killed more than 60,000 Americans.

Let me just remind you that the typical flu season is six months long.

Covid-19 has now killed 34,475 Americans, according to Worldometer. That's as of today -- April 16 -- and it doesn't include today's death toll from every state.

Now recall that the first covid-19 death in this country was on February 29.

A flu season that kills 60,000 Americans does so over the course of six months. This virus has killed more than half that number in approximately a month and a half. And even though the model of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts that daily deaths are past their peak, and will decline every day until they reach zero in late June -- assuming we maintain social distancing through the end of May, which conservatives are determined not to do -- that means we're still on course to have 20,384 additional covid-19 deaths just this month, for a total of approximately 55,000 deaths in two months.

And that's with lockdowns across the nation. This is as opposed to 60,000 deaths in six months from the flu while we were all living our normal lives.

Even your wingnut relatives can do that math.


And speaking of math, there was this moment in yesterday's Trump gripefest:

QUESTION: Why do we have 20 percent of the world’s deaths from the coronavirus when we’re only 4 percent of the world’s population?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, you don’t know what you have. Do you think you're getting honest numbers from some of these countries? Do you really believe those numbers in this vast country called China? They have a certain number of cases at a certain number of -- does anybody really believe that?
To be fair, the questioner is wrong. We don't have 20 percent of the world's reported cases -- we have 31 percent. Here are the ten countries with the most cases.

And yes, our share of the world's population is approximately 4 percent.

But is China lying about its low infection rate? Well, let's assume it is. Let's assume that China has ten times as many cases as it claims -- 823,410 rather than 82,341.

If you were to add those additional 741,069 cases to China's total, bringing the world's total to 2,914,272, the U.S. would still have 23 percent of the world's cases, with only 4 percent of its population.

The virus was spread by global travel to and from the United States. Poorer countries around the world have fewer travelers and less incoming travel. That's what a different president would have said. It's not the entire answer -- we really did fail to contain the virus early on -- but it's part of the answer.

Instead, Trump challenged the math. But math is not his best subject.


UPDATE, FRIDAY MORNING: Since I discussed cases while the questioner asked about deaths, let's do the math on deaths. Right now the U.S. has 23 percent of the world's covid-19 deaths: 34,641 out of a total of 147,508. China has announced 4,632 deaths. Let's bump that up to 46,320. The additional 41,688 would bump the world death toll to 189,196. The U.S. total of 34,641 would be 18 percent of 189,196, for a country that has 4 percent of the world's population.

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