The coronavirus pandemic is swamping Republican-led states like Florida. What's a good Republican lackey-slash-arm of the Trump re-election campaign like the Media Research Center to do? At the MRC proper, they're using a lot of New York whataboutism to distract from the disaster in Florida. And at the MRC's "news" division, CNSNews.com, reporter Susan Jones is achieving the same narrative in a different way, by cherry-picking numbers and making the current surge sound minor by comparing it to the pandemic's peak earlier this year.
Jones wrote in a July 7 article in the first of this series, under the headline "CDC: COVID-19 Deaths Peaked in Mid-April; Down 86% by Week Ending June 20":
The number of deaths involving COVID-19 in the United States peaked at 16,394 in the week ending on April 18, 2020, according to the provisional COVID-19 death counts published by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which is a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
By the week ending on June 20, deaths involving COVID-19 had dropped to 2,287--a decline of 86 percent from the peak of 16,394.
The weekly COVID-involved death count, as reported by the CDC, has been steadily dropping since it hit its peak in mid-April, based on the numbers reported by NCHS.
While Jones leads with those numbers, the last half of her article carries a bunch of caveats -- specifically, that the most recent numbers are not set in stone and are subject to revision; as she wrote, "CDC also noted that states report at different rates, although 63 percent of all U.S. deaths are reported within 10 days of the date of death."
Indeed, the CDC's current number for COVID-19-related deaths for the week ending June 20 stands at 3,673 -- a more than 50 percent increase from the number Jones reported. That tells you that Jones' reporting here is politically driven to downplay the current surge.
Jones followed this with a July 14 article with the blaring headline "CDC: COVID-19 Deaths for Week Ending June 27 Down 91.9% From Mid-April Peak," oging on to state that "In the week that ended on June 27, there were 1,363 deaths in the United States involving COVID-19, which was a 91.9 percent drop from the peak of 16,895 COVID-involved deaths reported for the week that ended on April 18." The CDC's current death count for that week is 3,534 -- more than double the number Jones reported.
On July 21, Jones touted under the headline "CDC: COVID Deaths for Week Ending July 4 Down 83% From Peak; Down 9% From Prior Week": "In the week that ended on July 4, 2,818 people in this country died from the COVID-19 virus, which is an 83.36 percent drop from the peak of 16,941 COVID-involved deaths reported for the week that ended on April 18." The current CDC number for that week is 3,957.
Joens did bow to reality a little in her July 27 article, conceding that numbers are going up and revising the previous week's numbers upward -- while still portraying that as below the April peak:
After falling for ten straight weeks, COVID-involved deaths in the United States began rising again during the week that ended on July 4 and continued to rise in the week that ended on July 11, according to data published by the CDC.
However, even with the rising number of deaths in those two weeks--as counted by death certificates submitted to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics--the number of COVID-involved deaths in the week ending July 11 was still 77.5 percent below the mid-April peak.
In the week ending July 4, 3,689 people died from COVID-involved illness, a 9 percent increase from the 3,384 who died in the week ending June 27.
In the week ending July 11, the provisional COVID death count was 3,814, a 3.4 percent increase over the week ending July 4.
But the 3,814 COVID-19-invovled deaths in the week ending on July 11 was 77.5 percent below the peak of 16,970 in the week that ended on April 18.
The CDC is currently reporting that 4,450 people died in the week ending July 11.
Jones' Aug. 3 article read pretty much the same:
The most recent death certificates submitted to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that COVID-involved deaths in this country declined in the second half of July.
Based on CDC's preliminary data, 4,081 people died of COVID-involved disease in the week ending July 18. That is an 8.29 percent decrease from the 4,450 who died of COVID in the prior week. And it is 75.97 percent below the mid-April peak of 16,985 COVID-involved deaths.
Jones did concede in the third paragraph that "as CDC notes, data in recent weeks is more likely to be incomplete. The numbers change as more death certificates come in, but it now appears to be a declining trend for the second half of July."
It's in her employer's political interests that the "declining trend" be the narrative, even if future numbers say otherwise.