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When COVID-19 first hit our shores, cable news showcased daily death counts from the virus. The numbers jumped in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Every day, the total grew.
In May, cable news dropped its focus on total deaths. Instead, “new cases” became the go-to metric as outbreaks hit Florida, Arizona, and Texas. This new, larger number enabled CNN, et al., to intensify their panicked headlines. Better still, they could blast perfidious GOP governors over new cases while giving nursing-home Cuomo a pass.
Two new peer-reviewed studies show the reason for the switch. While still dangerous, COVID-19 is far less deadly than it was in March. All groups hospitalized for the virus, including those most at risk, have seen a sharp drop in mortality.
“We find that the death rate has gone down substantially,” says Leora Horwitz, a doctor who studies population health at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine and an author on one of the studies, which looked at thousands of patients from March to August.
The study, which was of a single health system, finds that mortality has dropped among hospitalized patients by 18 percentage points since the pandemic began. Patients in the study had a 25.6% chance of dying at the start of the pandemic; they now have a 7.6% chance.
Bilal Mateen of the Alan Turing Institute in the UK says the drop is clear regardless of age, race, or underlying conditions.
“Clearly, there’s been something [that’s] gone on that’s improved the risk of individuals who go into these settings with COVID-19,” he says.
Horwitz and others believe many things have led to the drop in the death rate. “All of the above is often the right answer in medicine, and I think that’s the case here, too,” she says.
Don’t expect the media to drop “new cases” as their preferred metric, especially not before the election. It’s the easiest way to bash battleground states with GOP governors while ignoring the vastly higher death rates in one-party Democrat states like New York and New Jersey. It also stokes fear which helps their ratings.Published in