Andrew McCarthy: Coronavirus mortality rate – a grim update

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Tuesday, in explaining the decision to extend the heavy restrictions on communal and economic life, President Trump and his coronavirus task force related that we are in for a very rough next three weeks (up from what the president had just recently estimated would be two weeks). The bleak message was that things are going to get worse, much worse, before they get better.

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Those of us who have been closely watching the fatality rate (see here and here) can see that we are already onto the getting-worse phase. Dramatically so.

According to the Worldometer statistics (which are consistent with those compiled by Johns Hopkins University), the U.S. mortality rate has surged to 2.16 percent (4,099 deaths out of 189,711 reported cases as of this morning). Last week, it was about 1.5 percent.

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The U.S. rate is still less than half of the global rate of 5 percent (44,214 deaths out of 885,301 reported cases), which itself is probably a gross understatement (unless you believe the rosy reports from China — see Jim Geraghty’s nonpareil reporting on that, here and here, as well as our Zachary Evans’s report this morning). Nevertheless, the uptick is alarming.

Remember, Dr. Anthony Fauci has been saying the mortality rate would probably be about 1 percent, and perhaps significantly below that. Nevertheless, he concedes that current modeling projects that between 100,000 and 200,000 (or more) Americans infected with the coronavirus will perish. To revisit an oft-touted comparison, the death rate for influenza, from which tens of thousands of Americans die each year, is just 0.1 percent. (After initially analogizing COVID-19 to the flu, over which we do not shut down the country, the president rejected the analogy at Tuesday’s briefing.)

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