Commentary / Coronavirus

Facts Suggest Time to Reopen Economy

Three facts should define how we see COVID-19 – and whether America reopens. They are important, not much talked about. They should guide policy at all levels.

First, total deaths attributed to the virus may be inaccurate, due to death certificate discontinuities. Second, non-coronavirus deaths may be spiking from the shutdown. Third, virus deaths are clustered, while most counties have no deaths.

Facts matter. Different jurisdictions are attributing death to COVID-19 in different ways, and that has big implications. CDC guidance has been loose and changing, creating pervasive and systemic inaccuracy in state death counts. The guidance talks of assumptions in assigning cause of death, which is creating wild differences state to state.

Specifically, some authorities allow “cause of death” to be presumed, without testing.  Others downplay comorbidities.  While this may raise numbers for federal aid, it also overrepresents the population dying of COVID-19.

For example, a respiratory death in someone with advanced cancer, heart disease, emphysema, bronchitis, asthma, pulmonary hypertension, occupational lung disease, progressive stroke, diabetes, flu, pneumonia, liver disease, cirrhosis, or Alzheimer’s – could be identified as COVID-19.  While the virus may hasten the outcome, the cause is elsewhere.

Compounding the problem, human judgments without testing are subjective.  In a crisis, fear and public expectations reinforce over-classification. Corroborating overstatement of COVID-19 deaths is hard, but loose guidance suggests inaccuracy. One indication of overcounting is that leading causes of death in any given year include all the above.

In other words, people die annually of these diseases. When a terminal patient dies early from a respiratory ailment is that a “COVID-19 death”?  At best, numbers are misleading.  At worst, they are misinforming policy.

How inaccurate could they be? Colorado provides a good example. The state just admitted overcounting, saying many who tested positive for COVID-19 died of something else. As reported, “Colorado has made a stunning and significant change to the way it counts COVID-19 deaths,” markedly reducing “statewide figures.”

According to Colorado’s Public Health Department, the state was counting “those who tested positive for the coronavirus but died of other causes.”  They say a realistic review changed everything.  Of 1,150 people who tested positive, only 878 deaths are now “due to” COVID-19.

Beyond evolving “death certificate” guidance, states are realizing a test does not decide “cause of death.”  Thus, a patient with severe organ damage who gets a verifiable cold and dies does not die of a cold.

In short, our count is compromised.  As our “official” COVID-19 death toll nears 90,000, one must ask:  Are these deaths typically found in top ten causes being re-catalogued COVID-19?

Of course, the media will not ask. They are ready to report big numbers.  Still, now that Colorado has amended numbers, reducing overall deaths attributable to COVID-19, should other states follow?  Should national aggregators?

Second, look hard at rising non-coronavirus deaths – correlated with the shutdown.  Based on past studies, jumps may be expected in cancers (tied to postponed elective surgery), heart attacks and strokes (untimely diagnosis and elevated stress), drug overdoses (stress and poverty), alcohol poisoning and suicides (ditto).

History teaches stress rises in economic downturns as unemployment, insecurity, debt and doubt mount.  In recent weeks, we have seen 33 million first-time unemployment claims, a record. One in five Americans who was employed in February today is not.

Worse, poorly managed states are bungling benefits, businesses are preparing for bankruptcy, and inexcusable delays dogged Congress in March and April – when the chance to save lives, jobs and businesses counted most.

If these circumstances did not elevate stress, other events did.  Key consumer goods were hard to find, relatives hard to visit, churches and barbers closed.

Governors – each getting a paycheck – have done “daily crisis briefings.”  Maybe numbers now suffering the economic shutdown should start to be tallied, too.

In short, two causes of higher non-coronavirus deaths are at work –

elevated economic stress and uncertainty about when America gets back to work.  Taken together, they are a heavy counterweight.  We cannot let the virus take precedence over reopening – even if reopening must be done thoughtfully.

At that point, we will be looking backwards, very possibly wishing we had reopened faster, gotten people back to work, lowered aggregate stress and uncertainty, restored economic normality.

Third, other facts favor accelerated reopening.  Put aside constitutional arguments, balancing liberty with gubernatorial police powers.  Look at county-by-county numbers.

At this point, more than half of all COVID-19 deaths – however you count – are in one percent of the nation’s counties.  Those counties represent roughly 15 percent of the nation’s population.

By contrast, more than 50 percent of counties have had zero virus deaths – even under loose rules – and 63 percent of counties have had zero or one death.

Does that tell us something?  Does that recommend we “bring the lights up” by county? Maybe so.  Would that give us a reopening that gets half the country “back on our feet,” the rest assisted by monetary, fiscal, and presidential action?

In short, three facts – inaccurate death counts, spiking non-coronavirus deaths from duress, and good health for many – should tip the balance to thoughtful, measured, accelerated reopening.  If we fear the future, we are unfaithful to our past.  Some things are unknowable. Common sense says time to turn the dial.

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Todd Anthony
2 years ago

First, total deaths attributed to the virus may be inaccurate, due to death certificate discontinuities.
* There is no data to assume underreporting. In fact in Kentucky, pneumonia deaths spiked since January, leading many to believe the deaths attributed to Covid are in fact, underreported.
Second, non-coronavirus deaths may be spiking from the shutdown.
* There is no evidence to support this. However, there is evidence to support that due to resources dedicated to Covid Cases, there is a resource constraint on other emergency room admissions and/or surgeries.
Third, virus deaths are clustered, while most counties have no deaths.
*What a ridiculous statement. Of course they’re clustered, that is what occurs during epidemics or pandemics.

2 years ago

Write letters & suggest that Trump close down all people from Brazil before this gets any worse. Cannot believe that Brazil is going to let this play out.

2 years ago

The governors in blue states have driven their states broke over the years and want the lockdown to finish the job, then demand that the federal government bail them out. Also want mail in ballots to steal elections.

Phyllis Poole
2 years ago

NEEDED!! A lot more prayers.

Joanna Johnson-Smith
2 years ago

I have been BEGGING business owners to re-open for several weeks now. This is NOT a government decision, it is a personal CHOICE of FREE American citizens under the Constitution. Fear of an over-reaching , tyrannical, unconstitutional government is forcing people to comply with laws that are not laws and NOT enforceable! Open your doors, toss your useless masks, and decide for YOURSELVES! Government has NO say!

Gunny Joe
2 years ago

And with all this the Dem’s crown jewel will be the vote by mail.!. If we do not stop this our Nation is lost. It is time to stop hiding in our holes and be heard, often. That this should not change the way we vote. 1 vote per league living citizen of the United States Of America.

2 years ago

I was thirteen in 1968-69. I remember hearing something about the Hong Kong flu, but not much. I was not even instructed to wash my hands more often. A little research shows that 1,000,000 people died worldwide, including 100,000 Americans. During that pandemic, we held a presidential election, watched the Mexico City Olympics, put a man on the moon, and 400,000 hippies gathered at Woodstock to party. There was no panic. And the media took almost no note.

2 years ago
Reply to  Tom

So right!

2 years ago
Reply to  Tom

Back then we still had civility.

2 years ago

I agree with so many of you. With all this terrible viral stuff going on, I find it very unrealistic that Pelosi and the House has only worked 3 days in the past 3 months-How about that! Makes you wonder who is paying their salary. So many Americans want to be back at work because that is what we do. That is how we were brought up. We have mortgages, rent etc. and we are Responsible people unlike Pelosi and her Gang. Being a Veteran, and a surgical R.N., with Nursing Home experience- I can assure you that years ago, the Nursing Homes were quite understaffed; seniors set in close proximity many at a dining table to eat, not much exercise there either, and staff some scheduled and some coming in from other LTC facilities and Hospitals at times may our staffing quite inconsistent. All of these factors could have an impact on our Seniors health. What Governor Cumo did in NY was I believe Criminal to subject elders to released COVID released senior patients. I guess I wonder where the Hospital Social Workers were and the discharging Doctors concerns in allowing Cumo’s decision.

2 years ago

Who will save the children?

2 years ago

As always, their future and freedom friends… on all of us.

2 years ago

Why is Pritzker threatening withholding federal fund from Illinois residents who are determined by him not following his mandates? DC should send funds directly to law enforcement.

2 years ago

From the beginning when the WHO who stated ‘the virus wasn’t transferred from human to human’ AND ‘scientist’ Dr. Fauchi claimed ‘we didn’t have anything to be concerned about’ that President Trump only reacted the way any leader would. Then when Washington State reported many deaths attributed to the virus in a ‘Nursing home’ the media and the Democrats went wild. Reporting deaths overseas especially using China where the virus originated in Wuhan, touting over a million dying. Then Italy, then they began reporting deaths in the U.S. without specifically addressing the demographic the virus was targeting. This is a virus so named by the science community, NOT A PLAGUE! The Democrats look for anything and will create or blow out of proportion anything to blame on President Trump. This country NEVER should have been shut down in the first place. Our government is so corrupt, especially in todays Democrat Party. They should be charged with treason! We better pray that Donald Trump wins in November because some Democrat run states have mail in voting and ballots were already sent to wrong addresses or not sent at all. Now Pelosi’s so called ‘Hero’ bribe stimulus includes about a billion to fund mail in voting. It is crucial our country gets back on track and not plunged down to hell by Progressive Democrats.

2 years ago

It’s all about the power folks. The democrats have wanted it for a long while and now they’ve got a little, and it looks like we’ll have to pry our freedom out of their “cold dead hands” (figure of speech) to get it back. What a colossal mess this is!! Let’s get back to the business of business again. It’s way passed time to be normal again. And any one that feels they need more distance, take it, I’m ready for dinner and a movie!! Pursue life again. Trump November!!

Shirley Everett
2 years ago


2 years ago

We must never forget our history, heritage, and those who expect us to be equal to our moment. Thank YOU! AMAC will carry the flag forward!

2 years ago

My grand daughter works in a nursing home, was tested and had the virus. Symptoms were like a cold. The home has reevaluated the deaths originally reported as covid and about half are now attributed to the virus.

Frank Cannizzaro
2 years ago

I am sure if we had a Democratic President the would not have been a shut down at all.

Sharon Ormsby
2 years ago

With 12 other viruses being the most deadly including HIV-AIDS, this is unacceptable. It’s uncalled for. Hospitals are ready now. Drugs are ready. A friend of mine has it and she is one who is impaired due to a reoccurrence of cancer and yet her symptoms are mild. Her husband is asymptomatic. Both are on a mixture of drugs and feel better. She never goes anywhere so he must have brought it home to her unknowingly. Her last treatments were over eight weeks ago so it wasn’t then or where she caught it, thank goodness.

2 years ago

Are Democrats intellectually “ morbidly obese?”

2 years ago
Reply to  Chuck

Hmmmm… perhaps an intellectual question for the chairman of House judiciary committee.

Rexford O Ames
2 years ago

Below is a hard read. Many will not take the time however, those that do. One question? We closed our country why???
Some perceived facts:
#1.Yellow Fever ( 1793)- Deaths in Philadelpha-5,000, Typhoid Fever- (1906 – 1907), 10,771 deaths Mostly in New York, # 2, Spanish Flu Pandemic ( 1918-1920)
500 Million affected World Wide, 50 Million Deaths Worldwide, 675,000 American Deaths, Population: 103 Million, # 3 Diphtheria Outbreak ( 1921-1925) 206,000 stricken, 15,520 deaths, # 4, Polio Epidemic ( 1916-1955), 52,628 Americans Stricken, 3,145 Americans deaths, # 5, Asian Flu Pandemic ( 1957-1958), 1.1 Million Deaths Worldwide, 116,00 American Deaths -population: 121 Million,#6, H3N2 Pandemic (1968), 1 Million deaths worldwide, 100,000 American Deaths , population 200 Million, # 7, H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic, 89.3 Million Americans Stricken, 402,719 Hospitalized,est: 18,306 Deaths, # 8, 2018-2019 Influenza- A season, 44.9 Million Stricken, 766,472 Americans Hospitalized,52,6664 Deaths out of: 326 Million Population, # 9, Influenza-A Season ( 2019-2020) October 2019 – March 2020), 55 Million Stricken, 730,000 Hospitalized, 63,000 deaths. # 10, COVID-19-( 2019 to Present), 3,057,957 Cases worldwide, 211,894 Deaths worldwide ( Est), 988,469 Americans Stricken, 56,253 American Deaths ( Est.) Population: 328.2 Million.
And the Medical Advisors strongly suggested America close it’s very life on those badly contrived estimates of Million American’s Deaths?
Look at the above and tell me How many times has America closed itself . Covid-19 isn’t over and will, just like all the rest , come again, and again. Or another one will come from ( China)? and we get to watch their ego, kill Millions, throughout the world and close entire countries.
Hind-site is wonderful. The unknown is fear. The known is handled,
Prediction of this pandemic was predicted by” President Obama, Dr. Fauchi and Mr. Bill Gates. The rest of the Medical Community was kept silent. WHY? again, Hind-site is eye opening but not a conclusion.
When I look at the above numbers. Horrific at they are, They are consistent with Viruses. and I am not in any way in the Medical World. They keep Practicing and I keep getting sick?
America needs to get back to work! We will get it done
As it ever occurred to anyone why, The Democrat Held House of Representatives has passed a 1 Trillion Dollar save you fund and is trying to give you another one ? Could it be . in order to to keep unemployment high? Now granted, you received more than your job paid you? . How do you like becoming a slave. ( Color has nothing to do with it), unless that to can be a controlling factor. It has for many, many years. Why not continue and a few more as their made voters?
Man , you have no idea what the Democrat Controlled House and Senate did that created the Civil War, much less paid the south and north, to recover escaped slaves, and return them back to their owners?

2 years ago
Reply to  Rexford O Ames

Very well researched – worthy of every minute of reading. Thank you!

T Taylor
2 years ago

Crisis Perspective

For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in 1900. On your 14th birthday , World War l starts, and ends on your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war.
Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million.
On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.
When you turn 39, World War ll starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet. And don’t try to catch your breath.
On your 41st birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WW ll.
Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war. At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish.
At 55 the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. 4 million people perish in that conflict.
On your 62nd birthday you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, should have ended. Great leaders prevented that from happening.
When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.
Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900.
How do you survive all that?
When you were a kid in 1985 and didn’t think your 85-year old grandparents understood how hard school was…
And how mean that kid in your class is…
Yet they survived through everything listed above…
Let’s try and keep things in perspective.
Let’s be kind and show love and help each other out.
Author Unknown

Barbara Haring
2 years ago
Reply to  T Taylor

Wonderful!! I’ve often done this with my grandparents. My grandmother was married with two children before she had the right to vote. She and her family lived through the diphtheria epidemic, the Spanish Flu epidemic and then the stock market crash. By the time of the crash she had six children to feed and clothe. My grandfather was a welder. He went wherever he could find work and sent my grandmother money each week. She was basically a single parent and lived for years practicing “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Then, as if life hadn’t been tough enough, during that time they lost their eldest daughter at the age 13 to septicemia caused by infected tonsils. Yet through all of this my grandparents never thought of themselves as victims. They knew life held no promises. It was what it was and you did what was necessary and moved on. Seeing all these healthy people hiding themselves and their families in safe rooms and behind masks living on a daily diet of fear perpetuated by politicians and the know-nothings in the news media, who are still receiving paychecks with no sacrifices on their parts I might add, makes me afraid for the future of my country. Fear of the Coronavirus doesn’t even come close to that.

2 years ago
Reply to  T Taylor


2 years ago

Excellent info!

2 years ago

Thank you, onward all!

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