It has become impossible to cover the coronavirus pandemic without offending broad swaths of readers. Whether the debate involves government shutdown orders, mask mandates, economic responses to the crisis or the fundamental characteristics of the virus itself (to the extent we have any conception as to what those are) – people are spoiling for a fight.
Just this week, we were bashed for our reporting – criticized specifically for a recent article that referenced the latest South Carolina Covid-19 fatality estimates from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle, Washington.
“Despite being woefully and embarrassingly wrong with every projection, FITSNews still publishes sensationalized headlines using IHME as a cover,” one of our readers from Bamberg, S.C. noted in a recent letter to the editor. “Gloom-and-doom headlines from the mainstream media. Congratulations; you’ve arrived.”
Thanks … or something.
Of course we pointed out in our coverage of the data that these “mercurial” IHME estimates “have been all over the map” since the onset of the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Do we trust the projections?” we asked. “Not really. This metric has ebbed and flowed wildly for months – raising concerns about its credibility.”
So why even publish the information?
Because that’s our job …
We reported (and opined) on these numbers because we believe it is important to critically assess the Covid-19 data being released within the marketplace of ideas in our home state (and beyond). Similarly, we will continue to critically assess data emanating from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) – a leaderless bureaucracy which has been maddeningly inconsistent in its handling of the virus.
As pandemic paranoia ratchets up in the Palmetto State following the recent surge in cases (and the first child fatality related to Covid-19), all of us should commit to parsing as much data as we possibly can – and doing so as dispassionately as we can. In other words, it would be wise to put aside your 2020 electoral preference, partisan affiliation and ideological orientation when trying to make sense of all this.
Unless your goal is to remain ill-informed …
Simply put, the more we know (including the more we know about unreliable indicators) – the better. Eventually, something resembling a fuller picture has to develop … right?
Until then we just have to keep shaking the Polaroid …
To wit: One of the statistics we have been monitoring closely in recent weeks is the known “case fatality rate” related to Covid-19 – or the percentage of total reported coronavirus cases that have resulted in death. Obviously this number is going to be much higher than the actual fatality rate – which would include the hundreds of thousands (likely millions) of Americans who have (or have had) this virus without being tested.
The actual fatality rate is unknown … although we are hoping a reliable estimate will emerge at some point in the not-too-distant future.
So … in the meantime, what do we know? As of Sunday, July 12, 2020, there have been a total of 137,407 reported coronavirus fatalities in the United States out of 3,380,952 reported cases, per the global Covid-19 Tracker website. That means the national case fatality rate currently stands at 4.06 percent.
In South Carolina, 950 fatalities have been attributed to Covid-19 out of a total of 56,485 reported cases. That data is per the same website (which is using the statistics provided by SCDHEC). In other words, the Palmetto State’s case fatality rate currently stands at 1.68 percent – less than half the national average.
Both percentages have been holding steady at roughly that same levels for the last few weeks, too.
Within South Carolina’s borders, though, there is considerable fluctuation in this metric. Rural Clarendon county, for example, has a 9.4 percent case fatality rate – easily the highest in the state. Lee county – also located in a rural region of the state – has a 6.7 percent case fatality rate.
Conversely, Union county has the lowest case fatality rate – zero percent.
As for the Palmetto State’s three most heavily populated counties, Richland clocked in with a 2 percent case fatality rate while Greenville and Charleston counties registered 1.5 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.
What conclusions should we draw from this data?
First of all, every single one of these coronavirus classifications (infections, hospitalizations and deaths) remains a moving target. Many believe the “confirmed” numbers are undercounts, while many others argue that coronavirus counts are being inflated in an effort to claim more federal health care dollars.
So take the numbers cum oceanum salis.
Although we do know that whatever the case fatality rate may be in your area, if you are young and healthy this virus is not targeting you.
Also, it is worth noting that confirmed cases in South Carolina are climbing at a rate of 63.5 percent over the past two weeks – more than twice the 27.7 percent increase at the national level and the fifth-highest rate of any state in the nation. So it will be very important to keep tabs on this data in the weeks to come to see how this spike manifests itself in the case fatality rate.
Bottom line? We will continue bringing our readers the latest numbers we can get our hands on as it relates to Covid-19 … along with our best assessment of the data. And as always, our microphone is always open to those wishing to present data/ analysis of their own.
After all, truth is out there …
Eventually, we will make our way together through the fog of misinformation to arrive at something resembling consensus … although that may not happen anytime soon.
This news outlet is committed to providing our readers with the very latest, most relevant information we have related to this unfolding global story – and all of the stories we cover. To check out more of our coronavirus coverage, click on the link below …
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