How Deaths are Classified, Good and Bad Comparisons, and Other COVID-19 Insanity

This story from local NBC affiliate 25 News in Chicago “IDPH Director explains how COVID-19 deaths are classified” might be helpful for those of you who have not yet fully understood what is going on. Watch the embedded video of Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, speaking about how COVID-19 deaths are classified. Note the governor of Illinois to her left looking on.

111 more Illinois coronavirus deaths, 2,325 new cases - Chicago ...
Dr. Ngozi Ezik, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health

The ordinary way in which a profound truth is being transmitted is what is so striking about this clip. Those paying attention are being told matter-of-factly that COVID deaths are not from COVID but are listed as COVID deaths because the person who died had been diagnosed with COVID at the time—even if what killed them was clearly something else. It would be like being given a few weeks to live from terminal cancer and contracting influenza and having your death classified as an influenza death.

Remember when I told you on this blog that, in Pennsylvania, 70 percent of those who died were in long-term care facilities and that nationwide around 5% of persons are in long-term care? This population is typically in long term care because they are at the end of their lives, aged and/or dying of often multiple health problems. If they had COVID at the moment of their death, were they listed as a COVID death? Any other year and the death certificate would say something else—cancer, heart failure, etc.—but this year, in these months of mass hysteria, COVID is the cause of death?

In New York City, the majority of hospitalizations involved people who sheltered-in-place. Turns out that they are disproportionately aged and/or suffer from poor health. They are not sheltering so much as they are firm and homebound. New York governor Andrew Cuomo was recently scratching his head over this. But isn’t it simple, Governor? This population is at risk for hospitalization throughout the year. This year, if they are diagnosed with COVID, are they listed as a COVID death?

These numbers Johns Hopkins keeps feeding the public, how many of these are people who died with COVID and not from COVID? Even CDC’s more reasonable provisional numbers. From COVID? Or with COVID?

Is COVID being determined by a label arbitrarily applied by doctors who have been incentivized to list COVID as the cause of death? This is what Elon Musk was recently talking about Joe Rogan’s show (cued up below). This is what the doctors at Accelerated Urgent Care in Bakersfield, CA were saying—you know, the doctors whose press conference YouTube censored because it violated “community standards.” Hospitals could do this with any number of labels, but why would they? Unless they get more money if they list the deaths as a COVID deaths.

Elon Musk on The Joe Rogan Experience, May 7, 2020

Progressives are now up in arms because Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force says she can’t trust the CDC’s numbers and that the number of COVID deaths is being exaggerated. I doubt Birx is a MAGA hat wearing Republican. But this is the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr. Ngozi Ezike saying these things. I can’t be sure Ezike is not a MAGA hat wearing Republican. I don’t want to make any hasty assumptions. But I bet she isn’t.

To amplify my point, this is what Ezike said back in April:

“If you were in hospice and had already been given a few weeks to live, and then you also were found to have COVID, that would be counted as a COVID death. It means technically even if you died of a clear alternate cause, but you had COVID at the same time, it’s still listed as a COVID death. So, everyone who’s listed as a COVID death doesn’t mean that that was the cause of the death, but they had COVID at the time of the death.”

Here’s a suggestion: If COVID is not the cause of death, then it isn’t a COVID death. I have been saying this all along, so I’m not astonished by the fact of the matter. That she said it—that’s a bit astonishing. And she said it with governor of Illinois standing right beside her. Do I need to note that the media has made nothing of it? What was it that Michael Parenti said about this? “The media does not so much tell you what to think. The media tells you what to think about.”

* * *

This article in The Washington Post, “There is a more accurate way to compare coronavirus deaths to the flu,” is a weak attempt to beat back the skeptics. It suggests that deaths assigned to COVID-19 are caused by COVID-19. We have established that, as a matter of policy, if you die with COVID-19, it will be recorded as a COVID-29 death—even if you die of something else. (See above)

The CDC estimates flu deaths because they have reason to believe that deaths caused by influenza are undercounted. But in the case of COVID-19, we have deaths being attributed to COVID-19 that have a different cause, but default to COVID-19. This inflates the count of COVID-19 deaths. If we were to assign deaths to a rhinovirus when that rhinovirus is present, we could horrify the public. A lot of people get colds. Some people die from them. That’s right, rhinoviruses are a cause of acute lower respiratory tract problems with a fatal outcome.

In most cases of flu-like and cold-like illnesses, the actual virus or other pathogen is undetermined. You may have experienced a severe flu-like illness and test negative for the influenza strain(s) the test covers. You could well have a coronavirus or a rhinovirus. You could die from either. But if you’re healthy or not too old (if your immune system works properly), death is very unlikely.

It is important to understand that pneumonia isn’t just a thing in itself. Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the tissues of one or both lungs. The lungs fill with purulent material, (albeit not always) causing cough and fever. A variety of pathogens, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses, can cause pneumonia. Bacteria and viruses can and often are copresent. Every year in the United States, hundreds of thousand of people are hospitalized with pneumonia. Tragically, tens of thousands of them will die. Without testing every case, we cannot know how many pneumonia deaths are from the flu or from something else. The objective way to proceed is to assess all deaths from pneumonia by testing to determine what pathogens are present. We then have to establish a cause.

In the end, the article becomes unsure of itself and resorts to asking us to trust certain experts. But the experts are redefining the normal as something extraordinary and using the redefinition to scare the wits out of the public. As I have said, this is a classic moral panic. And it has been remarkably effective. Polls show that a majority of Americans believe they cannot return to work without a vaccine. Dr. Fauci is suggesting that schools cannot reopen until there is a vaccine because students cannot feel safe without one.

Anthony Fauci suggests that we can’t go back to school without a vaccine

First, there may never be a vaccine. But, more importantly, we don’t need a vaccine to go back to our lives. This virus is not that serious.

This video of Anthony Fauci is more satisfying. US Senator Rand Paul takes Fauci to task for his failed predictions and, more generally, the failure of epidemiologists to forecast the character of the pandemic.

Senator Rand Paul goes after Anthony Fauci

* * *

Here’s another example of scaring the public, in this example an attempt to scare the public away from their right to assembly and free expression. The Independent recently published an article with this headline: “72 people test positive for coronavirus after mass lockdown protest in Wisconsin.” This bit in the article exposes the headline as exemplary of fake news: “The information comes to light after last month hundreds of people in Wisconsin attended a mass protest at the governor’s stay-at-home order. However, it is not possible to say if any of these cases trace back to the rally as the health department is not tracking attendance of specific events.” In the article’s body, it’s admitted that the headline is made up. “But it is technically true,” I can hear people say, “At least it’s not technically a lie.” Be honest: the headline is substantively false.

Can readers have a story about 72 people who tested positive for coronavirus who did not attend any mass gathering? Don’t tell me they don’t exist. There are thousands of cases of coronavirus in Wisconsin.

* * *

The media reinforces the double consciousness that is characteristic of the progressive mind. I have spend some time in the CDC data this morning and found something interesting. As reckoned by the CDC’s cumulative record of death certificates that identify COVID-19 as cause of death, more than half of all deaths in the United States from COVID-19 occurred in just two states: New Jersey and New York. New York accounts for 40 percent of all COVID-19 deaths nationwide. New York City alone accounts for more than a quarter of the deaths in the United States.

The New York situation is quite revealing. Trump is being blamed for the deaths from the virus (he’s a racist for suggesting that reporters take a look at China) and now he is social Darwinist extraordinaire for wanting to open up the country (so people can work and feed their families). At the same time, Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, who is opening up his state, is receiving very little media wrath. Quite the contrary. His state accounts for 40 percent of the deaths in the country and the media finds his CNN chats with his hypocrite brother, Chris, to be “just the thing we need.”

* * *

The Los Angeles Times, in the article “The economic devastation wrought by the pandemic could ultimately kill more people than the virus itself,” tells us the following: “The United Nations predicts that a global recession will reverse a three-decade trend in rising living standards and plunge as many as 420 million people into extreme poverty.”

Sheltering in place is a First World luxury. It will come back to bite the affluent. But for the rest of the world, the lockdown is devastating now and will grow worse in the near future. “Hunger is already rising in the poorest parts of the world, where lockdowns and social distancing measures have erased incomes and put even basic food items out of reach.”

The article goes on: “The economic devastation the pandemic wreaks on the ultra-poor could ultimately kill more people than the virus itself.” I will tell you this now: it will kill more people than the virus. I have been saying this from the early days of the crisis (read my blog), as soon as it became clear that the those in charge of our lives and livelihoods were intent on carrying on with it for any longer than a short while.

Some folks couldn’t wait to share pictures of corpses and caskets to shame those of us who were concerned about the totality of policy effects. What about the corpses and caskets from starvation because the lockdown devastated the global economy? Are you eager to share those? I’m not.

* * *

Finally, in local news, The Green Bay Press Gazette tells us “Why people shouldn’t skip regular health care due to the COVID-19 crisis.” I will cut to the chase. Hospitals across the country are experiencing too few customers. Between COVID-19 not panning out, the mass canceling of “elective” procedures and surgeries, the media frightening citizens away from seeking medical attention, and the government telling people not to leave their homes, profits for the medical-industrial complex are flagging and they are laying off staff. More importantly, the shareholders are sad. They need money so they don’t have to work. So don’t wait for a vaccine (except to send your kids back to school). Head down to your local hospital and get seen today by the veterans of the war against the invisible enemy.

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.