I'm posting this on my Aikido blog because Covid-19 is keeping me off the mat.
People use numbers to tell the story they want to tell. The President does it, and people who don't like the President do it. The numbers "we" use are "the whole story," while the number the "other side" uses are "fake news" or "misleading."
I don't like the President. Whatever. But whether a statistic about Coronavirus makes him look good or look bad is none of my concern. Frankly, unless you're his campaign manager, it shouldn't be yours.
More Corona testing is good, because the more we know, the better. The US seems to be doing reasonably well compared to other countries.https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/full-list-cumulative-total-tests-per-thousand
The President uses "more testing" to downplay when an increase in cases makes him look bad. The President's detractors tend to use it to indicate things are getting worse -- which, BTW, they are -- but not just because of "more cases."
The President likes to point out that we have a lower death rate than a lot of other countries -- which is true (~3.3%).
But the death rate factors in the number of cases. So, for this argument, more cases makes the President look better, not worse. This morning I saw the President talk about "comparatively fewer deaths" -- which is incorrect. We have comparatively more deaths (in part because we have a larger country). But he was implying a death rate. "Number of deaths" and "death rate" are different statistics that are used interchangeably, which IS misleading.
The one statistic that is relatively unaffected by the number of tests is the number of deaths -- and of course this should be considered per capita when comparing with other countries. So here's that number -- we are doing better than Belgium, the UK, Peru, Spain, Italy, Sweden, and Chile, but worse than everyone else:
I can't find a graph that shows deaths-per-capita over time, to see if it's going up or down. I did find this quote: "The increase of 10,000 deaths in 11 days is the fastest in the United States since early June."
For more information on coronavirus testing, here's , and .