What do all these news accounts have in common?
- “Florida Sets Yet Another Coronavirus Record: 173 Deaths In A Day.”
- “A record 173 Floridians died from the virus Thursday, an average of more than one every eight minutes.”
- “The 134 new confirmed deaths is the second-largest increase on record, coming five days after the largest one-day jump of 156 last week.”
- “COVID-19 has ravaged Florida, with more than 237,000 people testing positive and 2,013 dying from the virus in July alone.”
So what characteristic do all of the reports share? They are all false.
It is not true that 173 people died from COVID-19 “in a day” in Florida. Nor did 134, or 156 on previous days.
It is also untrue than 2,013 had died in July when that story was published.
All of these scary headlines are based on the number of deaths reported by the state on any given day. This is not the same as the number of deaths that occurred on those days.
The difference might seem trivial. But it’s crucial because the press is using the timing of Florida’s death reports to whip up a frenzy about COVID-19 running riot in the state.
Take a look at the chart below. The blue bars are the number of deaths reported in four days last week. Notice the sharp uphill climb? That’s the story the press has been telling.
But those deaths didn’t occur on those days. In fact, the vast majority of them occurred days, or even weeks, before. The actual date of these deaths is indicated by the orange bars.