BREAKING NEWS: The Mortality Rate for the China Virus in the U.S. is just about the LOWEST IN THE WORLD! Also, Deaths in the U.S. are way down, a tenfold decrease since the Pandemic height (and, our Economy is coming back strong!).— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 6, 2020
Now there are a number of things he could have meant by “mortality rate” but because he offered no evidence to back up his claim, it’s not immediately clear which one he was talking about.
Regardless, he would be wrong about all of them.
Let’s start with the total mortality figure. There have been 132,981 deaths in the US attributed to Covid-19, the highest of any country in the world, quite obviously not “THE LOWEST IN THE WORLD”.
What about per capita? This gives a more accurate figure of the scale of the disaster as it divides the total population by the total number of deaths.
By this count, the US has 402 deaths per million people which puts it at number nine of the global chart of 215 countries and territories.
So presumably it isn’t this he was referring to.
Trump may be referring to the the “case fatality rate” which is the proportion of deaths compared to the total number of confirmed cases.
By this definition, the US is also at number 37 in a global ranking, nowhere near “the lowest” and even more damming when given more context.
As you would hope for the world’s richest country, the US has some of the highest testing rates in the world (though still not enough according to the government’s own advisors).
This means its case fatality rate will be far lower than countries battling the virus but without the resources to carry out testing on the scale needed.
So without comparable figures from other countries, we can only look at the facts on the ground which at this stage are the number of deaths.
There’s another reason Trump shouldn’t focus on the case fatality rate – deaths from Covid-19 typically happen three to five weeks after infection and it is only just over three weeks since the US started seeing a huge surge in the number of cases across large parts of the country.
It’s not certain, but this could mean the death rate begins to climb again over the next few days.
On Sunday Trump claimed without evidence that 99% of coronavirus cases in the United States were “totally harmless”.
Instead of listening to Trump’s tweets about coronavirus, perhaps focus on what the US’s top health official, Anthon Fauci said on Monday.
He said that the current state of the outbreak in the US “is really not good” and a “serious situation that we have to address immediately”.
The country is still “knee-deep” in the first wave of the illnesses, having never gotten the case number as low as planned.
“It’s a serious situation that we have to address immediately,” he added.
In California, where hospitalisations have jumped 50% over the past two weeks and for an eighth straight day, Texas registered an all-time high in the number of people hospitalised at any one moment.
California, Texas and Florida are all among two dozen states reporting high infection rates as a percentage of diagnostic tests conducted over the past week, an alarming sign of a virus still spreading largely unchecked throughout much of the country.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.