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Old 05-21-2020, 07:52 AM
Jackknifed Juggernaut is offline
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Any evidence that certain countries or regions are inflating their COVID stats?


I took a nice vacation to Punta Cana by myself at the end of February. It was perfect timing, as the first major stock market collapse occurred during my flight back. Anyway, I met this very nice newlywed Russian couple from the Krasnodar/Sochi region and we became very good friends. We’ve been communicating just about every day, so I have a good sense of how COVID and its impact on best practices, conventional wisdom, etc. have evolved over in Russia.

Knowing that I live and work in the NYC area. My friends were obviously concerned about my safety. While Russia implemented lockdown and quarantine practices around the same time as us, the spread of the disease was not nearly as prevalent (as far as we know; perhaps it was due to testing differences). Anyway, over the last week, Russia’s numbers have started growing exponentially. So, of course, I expressed my concerns to my Russian friends.

My friend responded that the numbers are all BS. Apparently, hospitals are over-reporting cases all over Russia to get more federal funding. My friend mentioned that one of his friends went to the hospital with a broken nose and came out with a COVID diagnosis. And this was without a test being taken. But this is of course anecdotal, but makes at least some sense if there is funding involved.

By the way, my friend had an interesting comment: “Over here, one class of citizens washes their hands, and the other class washes money”. Judging by the cars that my friends drive, and the lifestyle they live, I assumed that they fall into the latter class. So I asked my friend which class he falls in. His response: “I wash my hands with the money.” .
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Old 05-21-2020, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Jackknifed Juggernaut View Post
Apparently, hospitals are over-reporting cases all over Russia to get more federal funding.
I guess the answer to your question lies in which States or countries get government* funding for an increase in cases. Since I don't know any, I don't know where it happens.

Last edited by Heffalump and Roo; 05-21-2020 at 08:13 AM. Reason: added government to the funding
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Old 05-21-2020, 08:36 AM
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My friend responded that the numbers are all BS. Apparently, hospitals are over-reporting cases all over Russia to get more federal funding. My friend mentioned that one of his friends went to the hospital with a broken nose and came out with a COVID diagnosis. And this was without a test being taken. But this is of course anecdotal, but makes at least some sense if there is funding involved.
That doesn't make any sense. Putin obviously doesn't want to see an increase in COVID cases. And if you go against Putin in Russia, you don't get additional funding, you fall out of a window.
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Old 05-28-2020, 10:06 AM
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A couple of people from my high school posted on Facebook about how there is a strong financial incentive for hospitals to label patients with COVID because.... reasons. This is based on someone spewing crap about the subject (and that person, on followup, said he had no reason to believe there were fraudulent diagnoses). Someone else addressed that question and explained the whole payment for x diagnosis thing, in a very reasonable manner.

I asked this classmate "do you have any cites saying this has happened?"

Her very well-thought-out response was, pretty much verbatim: "I don't care. Where there's smoke, there's fire".

And someone else responded to her with hysteria about how since the hospitals are getting paid so much more if they put a patient in a ventilator, they are overusing them EVEN THOUGH THEY DON'T HELP. Then went onto hysterical ranting about her mother's recent death (due to a stroke) and how she was going to take legal action if her mother got a COVID diagnosis on her death certificate. As it happens, her mother DID test positive for it, but that was likely a contributing factor at most. It's not clear to me what the grounds would be for legal action, but I'm sure she Has Her Reasons.

So if these two "well-educated" people are to be believed, yes, hospitals are grossly overinflating the statistics.

Apparently, not everyone from that high school was terribly intelligent despite the evidence of Yours Truly. (hey, quit laughing!)
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Old 05-28-2020, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Mama Zappa View Post
And someone else responded to her with hysteria about how since the hospitals are getting paid so much more if they put a patient in a ventilator, they are overusing them EVEN THOUGH THEY DON'T HELP. Then went onto hysterical ranting about her mother's recent death (due to a stroke) and how she was going to take legal action if her mother got a COVID diagnosis on her death certificate. As it happens, her mother DID test positive for it, but that was likely a contributing factor at most. It's not clear to me what the grounds would be for legal action, but I'm sure she Has Her Reasons.
[/SIZE]
I have no particular reason to believe that you and I know any of the same people, but I saw an almost identical Facebook post just yesterday. Somebody "knew a woman" whose mother died from "another reason" (they didn't say what), but the hospital totally put COVID on the death certificate, and the family was totally going to sue!

It must be the latest craze, lawsuits over fake COVID diagnoses.
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Old 05-28-2020, 12:53 PM
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An interesting statistic to look at is deaths from all causes. The U.S. has close to 1,000,000 deaths this year from all causes. 2% higher than normal yet covid cases are listed at 100,000 which would put it at 10% above normal. My first thought is that a lot of folks dying from covid were dying anyway just a week or two sooner. I wonder how many cases where covid good rightfully be listed as a contributing cause are listed as covid deaths.
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Old 05-28-2020, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by HoneyBadgerDC View Post
An interesting statistic to look at is deaths from all causes. The U.S. has close to 1,000,000 deaths this year from all causes. 2% higher than normal yet covid cases are listed at 100,000 which would put it at 10% above normal. My first thought is that a lot of folks dying from covid were dying anyway just a week or two sooner. I wonder how many cases where covid good rightfully be listed as a contributing cause are listed as covid deaths.
Do you have any cites on this? Would be interesting to see.
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Old 05-28-2020, 01:12 PM
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It must be the latest craze, lawsuits over fake COVID diagnoses.
Or the latest Facebook meme.
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Old 05-28-2020, 01:27 PM
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Do you have any cites on this? Would be interesting to see.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/index.htm
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Old 05-28-2020, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by HoneyBadgerDC View Post
An interesting statistic to look at is deaths from all causes. The U.S. has close to 1,000,000 deaths this year from all causes. 2% higher than normal yet covid cases are listed at 100,000 which would put it at 10% above normal. My first thought is that a lot of folks dying from covid were dying anyway just a week or two sooner. I wonder how many cases where covid good rightfully be listed as a contributing cause are listed as covid deaths.
My WAG would be that deaths from crime and auto accidents are lower than in a typical year, which mostly offsets the increase in deaths from COVID 19.
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Old 05-28-2020, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by HoneyBadgerDC View Post
Look at the number of Pneumonia deaths.
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Old 05-28-2020, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by HoneyBadgerDC View Post
An interesting statistic to look at is deaths from all causes. The U.S. has close to 1,000,000 deaths this year from all causes. 2% higher than normal yet covid cases are listed at 100,000 which would put it at 10% above normal. My first thought is that a lot of folks dying from covid were dying anyway just a week or two sooner. I wonder how many cases where covid good rightfully be listed as a contributing cause are listed as covid deaths.
If I am understanding you correctly, you are saying that the death count of COVID and the excess deaths are not matching up. However, if you go to the CDC excess deaths site (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/c...ess_deaths.htm), it has a downloadable CSV data file that lists the excess death in the US as of 9 May. It lists 2020 excess deaths lower bound as 84,891 and the upper bound as 113,139.

This is higher than the official death count as of 9 May (~80K).

So that says to me that the COVID deaths are likely being under-reported or we have more COVID-fear related deaths because of people afraid to get other health treatments.
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Old 05-28-2020, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Dahnlor View Post
Look at the number of Pneumonia deaths.
Very conspicuous rise, almost certainly covid related.
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Old 05-28-2020, 03:29 PM
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Very conspicuous rise, almost certainly covid related.
How would people who "were dying anyway just a week or two sooner" push the total so far above the baseline?
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Old 05-28-2020, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by HoneyBadgerDC View Post
An interesting statistic to look at is deaths from all causes. The U.S. has close to 1,000,000 deaths this year from all causes. 2% higher than normal yet covid cases are listed at 100,000 which would put it at 10% above normal. My first thought is that a lot of folks dying from covid were dying anyway just a week or two sooner. I wonder how many cases where covid good rightfully be listed as a contributing cause are listed as covid deaths.
If I'm, looking at the CDC graph correctly*, since 2017 deaths from all causes has average 50,000-60,000 per week in a fairly regular cycle (peak in Dec.-Jan., trough in late summer.) That would make the average more like 2.5 million per year. The bump in deaths since April is far higher than what would be expected from people dying "just a week or two sooner."

*As always, when I say something that depends on reading numbers correctly, I invite someone who actually understands numbers to double-check me.

Last edited by Kent Clark; 05-28-2020 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 05-28-2020, 05:17 PM
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Huh. So we have rumors that mirror each other both in the US and Russia. Imagine that.

The US version isn't hard to trace.

Fox News interviewed a GOP Minnesota state senator named Scott Jensen. Jensen claimed Medicare paid hospitals $13,000 for each patient listed as having COVID and $39,000 for each one put on a ventilator. The interview launched a lot of memes, and people wanting desperately to believe this whole COVID thing is over-hyped or a hoax latched onto it. From Snopes:

Quote:
Medicare says it does not make standard, one-size-fits-all payments to hospitals for patients admitted with COVID-19 diagnoses and placed on ventilators. The $13,000 and $39,000 figures appear to be based on generic industry estimates for admitting and treating patients with similar conditions.
And of course, QAnon and InfoWars were all over this. From the Star-Tribune:
Quote:
A Facebook page affiliated with the QAnon movement shared a link to Jensen's interview with its more than 144,000 followers with the comment: "What is the primary benefit to keep public in mass-hysteria re: COVID-19? Think voting. Are you awake yet?"

InfoWars, a conspiracy news site that recently claimed that the coronavirus is a man-made bioweapon meant to stoke panic, also linked to Jensen's interview and ended a post with Jensen's quote: "Well, fear is a great way to control people, and I worry about that."
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Old 05-28-2020, 05:30 PM
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If I'm, looking at the CDC graph correctly*, since 2017 deaths from all causes has average 50,000-60,000 per week in a fairly regular cycle (peak in Dec.-Jan., trough in late summer.) That would make the average more like 2.5 million per year. The bump in deaths since April is far higher than what would be expected from people dying "just a week or two sooner."

*As always, when I say something that depends on reading numbers correctly, I invite someone who actually understands numbers to double-check me.
On the very top line it says expected death for the entire year and then it shows it as 102%.
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Old 05-28-2020, 05:45 PM
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On the very top line it says expected death for the entire year and then it shows it as 102%.
Ah, now I understand what you're talking about. That number includes the totals for the last two weeks, for which the data is incomplete. Notice that the week of 5/16 shows 77% and 5/23 shows 29%.

It would help if you look at that percentage for each individual week. From 2/1 to 3/21 we see it between 97% and 101% of expected, then compare that to each week thereafter.
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Old 05-28-2020, 05:54 PM
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Ah, now I understand what you're talking about. That number includes the totals for the last two weeks, for which the data is incomplete. Notice that the week of 5/16 shows 77% and 5/23 shows 29%.

It would help if you look at that percentage for each individual week. From 2/1 to 3/21 we see it between 97% and 101% of expected, then compare that to each week thereafter.
Yes I have been following the week to week for sometime now and I just noticed that top line figure this morning. It didn't really make sense
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Old 05-28-2020, 05:57 PM
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Missed the edit window. If we assume the last two weeks eventually total 100% of expected deaths, that will make the total for 2/1 through 5/23 to be 113% of expected deaths.
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Old 05-28-2020, 06:19 PM
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Dr. Deborah Birx Whitehouse Covid-19 Task Force Coordinator:
"So, I think in this country we've taken a very liberal approach to mortality. And I think the reporting here has been pretty straightforward over the last five to six weeks. Prior to that when there wasn't testing in January and February that's a very different situation and unknown.
There are other countries that if you had a preexisting condition and let's say the virus caused you to go to the ICU and then have a heart or kidney problem some countries are recording that as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death. Right now we are still recording it and we will I mean the great thing about having forms that come in and a form that has the ability to mark it as COVID-19 infection the intent is right now that those if someone dies with COVID-19 we are counting that as a COVID-19 death."
https://www.realclearpolitics.com/vi...-19_death.html
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Old 05-28-2020, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Jim Peebles View Post
Dr. Deborah Birx Whitehouse Covid-19 Task Force Coordinator:
"So, I think in this country we've taken a very liberal approach to mortality. And I think the reporting here has been pretty straightforward over the last five to six weeks. Prior to that when there wasn't testing in January and February that's a very different situation and unknown.
There are other countries that if you had a preexisting condition and let's say the virus caused you to go to the ICU and then have a heart or kidney problem some countries are recording that as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death. Right now we are still recording it and we will I mean the great thing about having forms that come in and a form that has the ability to mark it as COVID-19 infection the intent is right now that those if someone dies with COVID-19 we are counting that as a COVID-19 death."
https://www.realclearpolitics.com/vi...-19_death.html
That quote is discussed here.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Washintong Post
Add another doctor who has now rejected this theory: Birx. She was asked about it at Wednesday’s briefing and referenced the point above about how the coronavirus exacerbates existing conditions.

“Those individuals will have an underlying condition, but that underlying condition did not cause their acute death when it’s related to a covid infection,” Birx said. “In fact, it’s the opposite.”
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Old 05-28-2020, 07:46 PM
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This video from John Campbell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avkqwSffYLo
talks about the situation in Russia, and paints a very grim picture. But not one that is inconsistent with the OP. He discusses deaths, not diagnosed infections. The basic issue is that there appears to be significant pressure and structural issues suppressing reporting deaths as due to Covid-19. So the CFR looks extremely low. Putin has even been suggesting that Russian medicine is much superior and accounts for this low CFR.
Cynically one could observe that if there is a deliberate intent to make the impression in the populace that the infection numbers are inflated, yet the published death numbers are low, the population will believe that the situation is not serious. Which is one tactic for making a government look good. Indeed it is a brilliant way of exploiting a natural tendency in the populace to look for conspiracies.
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Old 05-28-2020, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Jim Peebles View Post
Dr. Deborah Birx Whitehouse Covid-19 Task Force Coordinator:
"So, I think in this country we've taken a very liberal approach to mortality. And I think the reporting here has been pretty straightforward over the last five to six weeks. Prior to that when there wasn't testing in January and February that's a very different situation and unknown.
There are other countries that if you had a preexisting condition and let's say the virus caused you to go to the ICU and then have a heart or kidney problem some countries are recording that as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death. Right now we are still recording it and we will I mean the great thing about having forms that come in and a form that has the ability to mark it as COVID-19 infection the intent is right now that those if someone dies with COVID-19 we are counting that as a COVID-19 death."
https://www.realclearpolitics.com/vi...-19_death.html
In context it sounds like Dr. Blix is concerned about the ways deaths are counted, but not a big concern about that those items are inflating the numbers, if anything a later report did find even Fauci agreeing that the numbers are not inflated, but that under counts are still more likely.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/22/u...eath-toll.html
Quote:
Epidemiologists are also rethinking their tabulations, but not in ways the White House would like. They have increasingly compared recent totals of deaths from all causes, which provide a more complete picture of the pandemic’s impact than tracking only deaths of people with confirmed diagnoses. Fatalities in the gap between the observed and normal numbers of deaths are called “excess deaths.” A study of mortality statistics in New York City showed more than 24,000 excess deaths from March 11 to May 2.

Mr. Trump is hardly the only politician uncomfortable with the official coronavirus counts. Jared Polis, Colorado’s liberal Democratic governor, said on “Fox News Sunday” that “the C.D.C. criteria include anybody who has died with Covid-19, but what the people of Colorado and the people of the country want to know is how many people died of Covid-19.”

Last Friday, Colorado’s health department revised its death toll downward, forming two categories to account for what it said were patients who had Covid-19 but died from other causes.

Trying to separate the cause of death in coronavirus-infected patients is “ludicrous,” said Dr. Alicia Skarimbas, a physician in Bergen County, N.J., who has treated around 75 Covid-19 patients.

“I have yet to have anyone infected with Covid die from anything else,” she said.
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Old 05-28-2020, 10:57 PM
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If I am understanding you correctly, you are saying that the death count of COVID and the excess deaths are not matching up. However, if you go to the CDC excess deaths site (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/c...ess_deaths.htm), it has a downloadable CSV data file that lists the excess death in the US as of 9 May. It lists 2020 excess deaths lower bound as 84,891 and the upper bound as 113,139.

This is higher than the official death count as of 9 May (~80K).

So that says to me that the COVID deaths are likely being under-reported or we have more COVID-fear related deaths because of people afraid to get other health treatments.
I’ve been downloading the raw data every week, and one thing I have to point out is that many of the states are way behind in reporting. For example, as of last week, Connecticut had just started reporting February deaths, and even those were incomplete. That said, in Massachusetts the excess “all causes” deaths excess value over the last six years' average almost exactly matches the Covid deaths reported by the state.

Last edited by Maserschmidt; 05-28-2020 at 10:59 PM.
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Old 05-28-2020, 11:09 PM
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I’ve been downloading the raw data every week, and one thing I have to point out is that many of the states are way behind in reporting. For example, as of last week, Connecticut had just started reporting February deaths, and even those were incomplete. That said, in Massachusetts the excess “all causes” deaths excess value over the last six years' average almost exactly matches the Covid deaths reported by the state.
Does this mean that CT is backed up three whole months, or that they've reported on March forward and are now backfilling February?
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Old 05-29-2020, 01:11 AM
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Fox News interviewed a GOP Minnesota state senator ...
... And of course, QAnon and InfoWars were all over this....
But what does Ann Coulter say? Bozo the Clown? Have we asked the Kremlin or North Korea's intelligence service what they think?

Quote:
Originally Posted by HoneyBadgerDC View Post
An interesting statistic to look at is deaths from all causes. The U.S. has close to 1,000,000 deaths this year from all causes. 2% higher than normal yet covid cases are listed at 100,000 which would put it at 10% above normal. My first thought is that a lot of folks dying from covid were dying anyway just a week or two sooner. I wonder how many cases where covid good rightfully be listed as a contributing cause are listed as covid deaths.
Many deaths are reported weeks late.
Quote:
Previous analyses of 2015–2016 provisional data completeness have found that completeness is lower in the first few weeks following the date of death (<25%), and then increases over time such that data are generally at least 75% complete within 8 weeks of when the death occurred
Quote:
Originally Posted by HoneyBadgerDC View Post
Arithmetic to the rescue! Here's data from the linked table, with two columns added by me. 1st column is week-ending date, 2nd covid-9 deaths, 3rd total deaths, 4th "percent of expected deaths", 5th expected deaths (deduced from columns #3 and #4), 6th excess deaths (column #3 minus #5).
(You may need to disable Sultanbugs in the lower-left of the page to view this table.)
Code:
Total Deaths    81372   971879  102     952823  19056
2/1/2020            0    57627   97      59409  -1782
2/8/2020            1    58278   98      59467  -1189
2/15/2020           0    57616   98      58792  -1176
2/22/2020           2    57688   99      58277   -583
2/29/2020           5    58020  101      57446    574
3/7/2020           32    57793  100      57793      0
3/14/2020          51    56572   99      57143   -571
3/21/2020         539    57062  101      56497    565
3/28/2020        2997    60766  109      55749   5017
4/4/2020         9345    68936  124      55594  13342
4/11/2020       15320    74510  135      55193  19317
4/18/2020       15739    71120  132      53879  17241
4/25/2020       13146    66216  123      53834  12382
5/2/2020        10202    59920  112      53500   6420
Deaths were lower than expected in February. Was the winter mild? Or is this just due to lateness in reporting deaths? (The same lateness renders the 1st row of the table almost useless.)

For 4/4/2020 there were 9k covid deaths and 13k excess deaths; for 4/11/2020 15k and 19k. If anything, the data suggest that there were thousands of deaths each week in the April peak that were due to covid-19 but not reported as such. (Moreover, the crisis may have exacerbated the lateness of reporting deaths unascribed to covid-19.)

Last edited by septimus; 05-29-2020 at 01:14 AM.
  #28  
Old 05-29-2020, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by nelliebly View Post
Fox News interviewed a GOP Minnesota state senator named Scott Jensen. Jensen claimed Medicare paid hospitals $13,000 for each patient listed as having COVID and $39,000 for each one put on a ventilator. The interview launched a lot of memes, and people wanting desperately to believe this whole COVID thing is over-hyped or a hoax latched onto it. From Snopes:
I don't know anything about the specific numbers, but it is (of course) true that hospitals get paid more for COVID patients than similarly situated non-COVID patients. There is a 20% Medicare reimbursement bump for COVID cases under the CARES Act and (perhaps more importantly) HHS is providing payment (at the higher Medicare rates) for treatment of uninsured patients with a COVID diagnosis.

For example, from USAToday's Fact Check of Jensen's claim:

Quote:
We rate the claim that hospitals get paid more if patients are listed as COVID-19 and on ventilators as TRUE.

Hospitals and doctors do get paid more for Medicare patients diagnosed with COVID-19 or if it's considered presumed they have COVID-19 absent a laboratory-confirmed test, and three times more if the patients are placed on a ventilator to cover the cost of care and loss of business resulting from a shift in focus to treat COVID-19 cases.
And from Factcheck.org:

Quote:
It is true, however, that the government will pay more to hospitals for COVID-19 cases in two senses: By paying an additional 20% on top of traditional Medicare rates for COVID-19 patients during the public health emergency, and by reimbursing hospitals for treating the uninsured patients with the disease (at that enhanced Medicare rate).
I don't know if this is happening. (Although, of course, upcoding is a common type of health care fraud/"mistake"). But, as far as I can tell, Jensen's factual claim appears to be correct.
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