When Numbers Lie

Will we ever have an accurate death count for COVID19?

Mary Keating


After reading this article by a forensic pathologist and the ensuing comments, I don’t see how we can ever get a definitive number in the United States. Not only has the death rate of COVID19 become politicized, we don’t have accurate reporting due to lack of testing, different procedures per county for classifying deaths, and financial incentives for hospitals to list the cause of death as COVID19.

As a result, some areas are under reporting and others are over reporting COVID19 deaths. (Maybe they will average out.)

According to Dr. Melenik, we will only be able to know the true death toll after the pandemic is over and only then, by a statistical analysis. Seems the only quantity people agree on is “a lot.”

The article reveals once again how divided the country is even when we all need to pull together and fight this unseen foe.

What’s important is not the death rate but the ability to diagnose and treat people with COVID19, stop its spread, and eventually create a vaccine.

The majority of us agree that this is a novel virus, meaning we haven’t built an herd immunity to it; and we don’t really understand how it affects each person. The focus needs to be on health care. But alas, that is politicized as well.

Like all crises, the underlying stresses on society are pushed to their limits. Some areas will explode and have already explode. The US is experiencing this right now with its underlying inequities in how people are treat based on their race and on their wealth or lack thereof.

Hopefully, some good will come out of this pandemic by forcing us to address shortcomings that have been placed on the back burner for too long. And maybe, just maybe, we will put aside political and financial agendas to work together once again for the common good.

Our health care workers are putting their lives in danger every day to help whomever is in their care. As we are all in each other’s care, interdependent on survival, let’s follow their heroic example.



Mary Keating

MaryKeatingpoet.com Lawyer, disability advocate, Wheelchair rider. Published in SFWP, Sixfold, Scribes Micro Fiction (Poetry Editor). 2x Pushcart nominee.