WSJ has misleading narratives about the COVID stats.

in #wsj2 months ago

https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-latest-news-07-10-2020-11594368064

"U.S. Virus Deaths Rise As Cases Hit New High, " claims a front-page Wall Street Journal feature. In a remarkable understatement, the article admits "deaths haven't surged in the same way the infections have."

The accompanying graph, reproduced here, shows a 7-day average of daily deaths falling from about 275 in mid-April to well under 100 at the same time many States reopened for business around May 1. In late June, nearly two months after the reopening, there was brief blip above 100, which was consistent with a lag between infection and death after the late May street protests. Since then, the 7-day average of deaths is again below 100 - while the number of positive tests keeps moving in the opposite direction.

The authors almost admit that their bad habit of labelling more positive cases as "more infections" is just wrong. As they note, "soaring case counts are partly attributable to expanded testing that is detecting asymptomatic or less severe cases, often among younger people."

Soaring case counts in the South are also partly attributable to a belated but essential emphasis on testing workers in hospitals and nursing homes - jobs with with a high risk of testing positive. Another Wall Street Journal report found unusually huge increases in nursing home cases (but not deaths) since late May in Phoenix, Tampa, Houston and San Antonio.

Nameless "epidemiologists caution that deaths typically lag behind other indicators," say the authors of "U.S. Virus Deaths Rise." Look at the graph. Deaths rose before tested cases because few cases were tested, then cases rose rapidly when testing did but deaths did not. Cases don't predict deaths with or without a lag.

Looking for evidence not apparent in their graph, they speak of large "percentage increases in deaths" in three states since July 1 - South, Texas and Alaska. But that's just a few days, and the percentage increase is meaningless if the number was unusually low on July 1 or unusually high on the last day being compared with the first. Besides, Alaska has only had 15 COVID-19 deaths, and it's not a Southern state.

The headline and article are very misleading, but the graph is not.

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