Are COVID-19 Deaths Being Over-Counted to Justify the Lockdown?
Incompetence and Data Errors Driving Public Policy
One of the key indicators for Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf in his rolling re-opening plan is the number of new cases and the number of deaths from the virus, but something is way off on the numbers and reporting.
Pennsylvania’s official COVID-19 death count dramatically spiked not once but twice this week but yesterday the number dropped dramatically by more than 200.
State Department of Health spokesmen say it’s a combination of technical issues and the questionable use of “probable” deaths from the virus, rather than confirmed deaths from the virus.
The homosexual rights political activist who is now the state’s Health Secretary, Rachel Levine, said in a statement the change was “made in an effort to be transparent.”
“Today there was a drop in probable cases, specifically probable deaths, which impacts total case count. These cases were previously reported as probable, but review determined that more info needed before attributing as COVID-19 related. This doesn’t impact confirmed case count,” the Department of Health said in a public statement.
The trouble began Sunday, when the Department of Health raised its death toll to 1,112 — an increase of 276 overnight. Then on Tuesday, was the second spike, from 1,204 to 1,564 deaths.
But these were cases reported over several weeks, not overnight.
Given how critical it is to have accurate data to determine the shutdown policy and when business owners can re-open, this isn’t good.
Besides inconsistent and inflated death counts, the department has struggled to gather demographic data for positive patients, which is critical for both policy at the local level and individual choice, given the disparate racial impact of the virus.
Pennsylvanians are frustrated with the lockdown, as shown by the massive rally in Harrisburg on Monday.
Republican state Rep. Russ Diamond blasted Wolf’s lockdown at the rally, while GOP state Sen. Doug Mastriano urged protesters to “rise up” and “say ‘no’ to tyranny.”
Blacks are much more likely to be infected, and more likely to die from it, owing to congenital chronic diseases and poor lifestyle choices like bad diet, lack of exercise and heavily indulging in harmful vices.
The data released only represents about a quarter of cases in the Keystone State, but it tracks with trends in other states showing blacks are far more likely to be infected, and more vulnerable to a fatal outcome, apparently because of comorbid conditions like obesity and poor lifestyles.
The state Department of Health, which possesses the physical addresses for the majority of those tested and those who have died of the virus, has declined to provide case and death counts beyond the county level.
Of the roughly one-quarter of patients for which we have data, about 33% are blacks. Blacks make up just 12% of the state population. White Pennsylvanians, meanwhile, are 80% of the state, yet only 63% of the patients in the limited data the state released.
What we do know from the data released so far is that in Lancaster County, the bulk of fatal cases have been in Lancaster Township, the small suburb of Lancaster city. It accounts for half of the more than 100 COVID-19 deaths in the entire county. The bulk of these deaths have been in the middle of April – something like 63 of the total 100+ deaths.
The latest data released also shows COVID-19 cases by ZIP code statewide. You can look at the state’s interactive map here.
Regardless of whether it’s data errors, reporting mismatches or resolved cases, Pennsylvanians need better than this kind of incompetence from Levine.
If the death rate and infection rates are going to be used to justify the enormous crackdown on life and business in Pennsylvania, that data better be accurate.
SpotlightPA has good coverage of this incompetence at the Department of Health.