Fact-checking COVID-19

For the last few weeks, I’ve been fascinated by the deluge of data coming at us from all directions… from doom-and-gloom predictions to minute-by-minute updates on the spread of the virus all over the globe. Few will soon forget how in the matter of mere hours, the entire social structure around us was thrown into massive upheaval. Not even social media, known for its near omniscient status, could keep up with the changing social landscape.

Initially, before COVID-19 truly caught our attention, like most Westerners, I was not particularly intrigued by some little virus from some city in China. But, suffice to say, those days are long gone. When was the last time you had a conversation with someone that went even five minutes without any reference to the virus? The manner in which it dominates our lives is like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and I don’t know that anything in the last 150 years of American history quite matches its omnipresent status. Even when we had significant national crises, we still have many opportunities to distract and entertain ourselves within our local communities. But all that’s been stripped away.

Unsurprisingly, thanks to the firm policies of our leaders, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, many for good. And who could blame our leaders? After all, we were told by the leading experts that 2.2 million Americans would likely die from COVID-19. That’s far worse than a bad seasonal flu bug, which kills “just” 20,000-80,000 Americans each winter. And in the meantime, more and more tales of death and quarantine were coming out of Italy. So we did the easy and obvious thing, we panicked. Practically overnight, every single sport at every level was shut down. Restaurants were shuttered, along with many other businesses. Entire industries ground to a halt. And not more than a few constitutional freedoms were trampled in that panic.

I’m a statistics nerd, always have been, from my days as a preteen boy playing baseball board games while keeping precise records of each player’s stats to later managing multiple seasons of a fantasy football league with nothing but a newspaper and a tiny-screened Apple computer. I love numbers… if I can turn something into an opportunity to create a spreadsheet, I will.

I’m also a skeptic. I don’t readily accept something just because… I need a valid reason to believe it. So I decided early on to follow the data related to COVID to see if the dire predictions were backed up by the actual numbers as the virus spread around the country. So that’s what this site is, my ongoing attempt at tracking the most significant data and formatting it so that others can benefit as well. It’s really easy to get lost in all the numbers thrown at us and settle for just accepting that our experts and leaders know what they are talking about. But when millions of lives are being damaged or destroyed, it is incumbent upon us that we stay engaged and hold our leaders accountable to their own words and actions.

4 thoughts on “Fact-checking COVID-19

  1. The data you have in your chart does not match what is on source. How do you explain that?

  2. The covid-19 deaths compared to IHME’ deaths. You might be getting the totals elsewhere. But that is not noted as far as I can see.

  3. I’m not sure which exact numbers you are referring to, but note that I only tracked the 16 states that were initially the leaders in testing/cases. I didn’t want to track all 50 states, that would have taken too much time. So I grabbed a representative sample.

    Sometimes the COVID data is updated later after I’ve recorded it for my purposes, or they drop a ton of deaths on one day from previous weeks.

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