President Trump and his aides have argued that a sudden increase in covid-19 cases is the result of more widespread testing. That’s not true. Unlike other developed nations, the United States failed to flatten the curve early in the outbreak and the disease is now spreading — hence, more cases.
But then Trump took it further. “We have tested over 40 million people. By so doing, we show cases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless,” he said at the White House on the Fourth of July.
Wow. Really? Ninety-nine percent? That’s amazing. Why are we taking all these precautions?
Because it’s false.
At the moment, the data show that slightly more than 4 percent of the cases in the United States have led to death. The count at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which lags behind private data, indicates a death rate of nearly 4.5 percent.
Johns Hopkins University, in a comparison of the observed case-fatality rate of the 20 countries most affected by covid-19, calculates that the United States ranked seventh worst, with 4.4 percent. The United States ranks second-worst in terms of deaths per 100,000 people.
The World Health Organization in March said that “for covid-19, data to date suggest that 80% of infections are mild or asymptomatic, 15% are severe infection, requiring oxygen and 5% are critical infections, requiring ventilation.” A review of 21 reports in April indicated that as few as 5 percent and as many as 80 percent are asymptomatic. Neither of those figures comes close to 99 percent.