I think it just makes more sense to people. Saying that something happened to 500,000 people in this country and 200,000 people in that country is easier to grasp than talking about those same numbers as 10 people per 100,000 in one country and 14 people per 100,000 in another country.
Also, keep in mind that a lot of people either don’t know that difference between ‘total deaths’, ‘death rate’, ‘deaths per capita’ and other ways of working with numbers, or even if they understand it, are going to mentally check out when they see too many numbers.
Back in March I saw an anti-quarantine/just the flu image going around. It showed the ‘death rate’ for several countries comparing the ‘death rate’ for 2020 Covid deaths compared to the 2016-2017 flu. Ignoring the fact that it compared a year of the flu to 3 months of Covid, the numbers weren’t the ‘death rate’, they were total deaths, as illustrated by most of the numbers being well over 100. If you looked at the numbers, the covid ‘death rate’ was about a quarter of the flu ‘death rate’, which made sense since they only used about a quarter of the time.
At best, the graph was incorrectly labeled by mistake. At worst, it was done on purpose knowing people would just take the headline ‘covid death rate much lower than seasonal flu’. In either case, it was a good example for me for when people say numbers don’t lie. Maybe they don’t, but they can be manipulated to present data in a different way.