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Several tweets went viral on Saturday, falsely accusing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of drastically reviewing the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the United States, igniting conspiracy theories that the coronavirus is not as serious as the authorities claim.
Saturday, CDC says more than 64,000 people have died in the United States, but the fake tweets accused them of quietly cutting that figure in half.
The most important tweet came from Tim Young, a right-wing media personality.
Young linked to a provisional count of deaths from COVID-19 from the National Vital Statistics System, an intergovernmental system that tracks births and deaths in the United States and that, Friday evening, put the number at 37,000.
Numerous responses to Young’s tweet accused the media of plotting by ignoring the “real” death toll.
But the table of links to Young clearly indicates that the data only covers the period from February 1 to April 25.
In addition, the National Vital Statistics System website clearly indicates that it is significantly behind in counting deaths because it relies on the tabulation of the official death certificates it receives.
“It is important to note that it can take several weeks before death records are submitted to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), processed, coded and tabulated,” says an important warning above the data. “Consequently, the data presented on this page may be incomplete and will probably not include all deaths occurring during a given period, especially for the most recent periods.”
“Data during this period is incomplete due to the time lag between when death occurred and when the death certificate is completed, submitted to the NCHS and processed for reporting purposes,” says another footnote. of page.
In comparison, the CDC most recent count of COVID-19 deaths is on a separate site and shows that more than 64,000 people have died in the United States.
As reported by the CDC, this tally is updated daily based on data received from public health agencies: “Case notifications have been received by the CDC from public health authorities in the United States and National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (NNDSS). “
Neither this figure from the CDC nor the page from the national vital statistics system have been revised downwards.
In its tally, the CDC also includes cases where the coronavirus was the probable cause of death, and not just the confirmed cause of death. As the CDC states, “A probable case or death is defined by one of the following: Meet clinical criteria AND epidemiological evidence without a confirmatory laboratory test for COVID-19; Satisfy suspected laboratory evidence AND either clinical criteria OR epidemiological evidence; records criteria without confirmatory laboratory tests performed for COVID19. “
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the “truths” of the coronavirus have been pushing false stories that claim that the virus is concocted, largely exaggerated, or that health organizations are lying about the number of people really sick. Last month, a former Fox News commentator shared a video to show that hospitals are not as overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients as the media have portrayed.
In another tweet that started spreading on Saturday, Martin Cowen, a current libertarian to represent Georgia in the House of Representatives, also linked to the National Vital Statistics System’s overdue counter and wondered why it was much lower than another tracker.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have mapped cases of COVID-19 around the world and in the USA.
Johns Hopkins researchers get their data from the CDC and state health services.