Archive for May 5th, 2020

Maybe coronavirus deaths really are being overcounted…

May 5, 2020

Changed counting rules and an unintended consequence of hospital reimbursements?


Early on, we concluded that coronavirus statistics are generally problematic and that “cutting to the chase, the most reliable number being reported is the number of COVID-19 related “Daily New Deaths”.

For details, see: How will we know when we’ve turned the COVID-19 corner?

I argued that if anything is discrete and countable, it’s a death (versus, say, a “confirmed case”).

I acknowledged the problem posed by the difference between “dies with” and “died because of”.

But, I assumed that the counting rules would stay the same and that there wouldn’t be incentives (intentional or unintended) to either over- or under-report.

Silly, me.

A couple of weeks ago, the CDC changed a counting rule.

The original rule: If a patient tests positive for the coronavirus and dies, put COVID on the death certificate.

The change: Doctors should also record “presumed” coronavirus deaths even if they aren’t “confirmed cases”.

In NYC alone, that change boosted the death total by almost 5,000.

That might be the right way to do it, but it did screw up the data series.

So be it.


A second counting issue has to do with economic incentives…



May 5, 2020

Over the weekend, Gov. Cuomo reported final results from the NY antibody test program..

Key Data:

12.3% of the NY state sample tested positive for coronavirus antibodies.

Note: The rate in NYC was 19.9%

That extrapolates to 2.4 million New Yorkers.

Given the current number of cases (327,374), 2.1 million (86.3%) of the already infected people were, by definition asymptomatic — having no or mild symptoms.

The implied deaths to infections rate is (1.0%).


The implications…


May 5: C-19 Key NATIONAL Data

May 5, 2020

Major upward revision of IHME forecast

1,324 Daily New Deaths Worldometer
> DOWN for 5 consecutive days
> 7-day trend 1,875 trending down
> 3-day trend 1,383 DOWNWARD

442 NY+NJ+CT 33% of US Total            


See: How will we know when we’ve turned the COVID-19 corner?

Cumulative Deaths 
35,451  NY+NJ+CT 51% of US Total

IHME Model Cumulative US Death Projection:
134,475 by Aug. 4  Rev. UP 62,492 on 5/5
>> Projection roughly DOUBLED <<

Starting today, IHME forecasts for the US are based on a new hybrid model.

(The original model) is now combined with a disease transmission model.

The latest US forecasts are based on four key determinants estimated from data: mobility, population density, testing, and temperature.

The new model captures the impact of changes in social distancing mandates, changes in mobility, and the impact of testing and contact tracing.

It enables predicting a resurgence when social distancing mandates are relaxed.

Source: IHME

Note: The revised forecast implies that new deaths average ~ 650 per day from now until Aug. 4.  Current 7-day moving average is 1,875; 3-day moving average is 1,381.

click to see C-19 Data Reference Guide: ALL STATES
Related Posts:

Flattening the COVID-19 curve

About that forecast of 60,000 coronavirus deaths