A Quick Note on the COVID Death Rate in the US

Political leaders have already jumped to leverage this crisis into pork for their interest, passing a $2 T package which is 50-80% nonsense. I’ll list some of the problematic line-items later in this post. My key point in this post is to highlight the fact that the US had the world’s best healthcare response before this bill was passed.

I’m sure political leaders will try to pin our resilience to the CARES Act and therefore justify its insane content, but the truth is before the bill was passed we already had the world’s lowest death rate, even despite having the world’s largest number of confirmed cases, per Johns Hopkins via this article:

The trustworthiness of the data above varies by country, but taking it at face value the US death rate is ~1.5% while the global death rate is ~5%. This top-level comparison is certainly omitting many important variables such as pandemic start time within country, demographic factors, economic factors, and policy factors. Without further data, the US preferred effect causal explanation should be shared equally across those speculated factors.

The death rate, or life-year cost, of negative economic implications of recent policy actions is much harder to calculate, but I suspect even more grave in the long run. Kudos to Rep. Thomas Massie (KY) for attempting the voice vote.

The number of poor policy responses during this pandemic are too numerous to count:

  1. First, a couple good things:
    1. Many states including Texas legalized delivery of alchohol.
    2. The pandemic has acted as a forcing function to enable remote working, remote learning, homeschooling, and other interesting and effective things that would otherwise have been adopted much more gradually in expectation.
  2. Forced, rather than voluntary, quarantine and closing of businesses. This lead directly to the biggest spike in unemployment claims ever seen, certainly impacted American health negatively, and immediately generated economic recession.
    1. Poor definitions of essential vs non-essential. Income-providing businesses, eg all businesses, can be considered essential from the employee’s perspective.
  3. Documenting poor education responses courtesy of Corey DeAngelis
    1. Oklahoma representatives pushing the state superintendent to stop virtual schools from serving rural students during the crisis.
    2. Oregon’s governor ordered all public schools to close, including virtual charter schools.
    3. The Los Angeles teachers union called to ban all new charter schools and stop all campus-sharing arrangements with charters.
    4. This group video discussion includes Corey and specifically covers COVID and Education policy.
    5. The second half of this podcast featuring Corey DeAngelis also discusses school choice and the pandemic.
  4. CARES Act cash payments are not adjusted by cost of living per state. A meme went around showing the cash transfer is a joke in NYC, arguably where it’s needed most, and it’s lavish in some rural areas.
  5. Insane amounts of pork shown below this list.
    1. Note: The below list is not verified line-by-line and reflects a fixed point in time which may or may not reflect changes due to amendment and house-senate reconciliation.
    1. This article on pork in the bill is probably more heavily verified than the below Facebook post.
    2. Here’s a GovTrack link to the house bill for primary source reference.
A largely unverified list of things in the bill's current form reposted from another FB friend:
#DemReliefBill #SorryAmericans
$35M Funding for the Kennedy Center
Airlines must be carbon neutral By 2025
Airlines must disclose carbon emissions for each flight
Relieve USPS of all debts owed to Treasury
Increase minimum wage to $15/hr
$7M a available for Gallaudet University 🤔
$23M available for Howard University 🤔
$1M available for the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper of the Senate
$300M for migration and refugee assistance
$33M available for NOAA
$278M for IRS
$300M to Public Broadcasting {NPR}
$100M to NASA
$300M for the Endowmemt for the Humanities
{whatever the hell that is}
$300M for the Endowment for the Arts
$25M for cleaning supplies for the Capitol building
$25M for additional salaries for the House of Representatives
Required mailing of absentee ballots to everyone
- No ID required
Same Day Voter Registration
$1M for additional ‘Obamaphones’
$10M for Mivesnt and Seasonal Farmworker Program
$15M for ‘Program Administration’
{fuck it, why not!?!}
$6.5M to the ‘Wage and Hour Division’
$30M to OSHA
$7M to enforce the Fair Housing Act
$720M to Social Security Administration
{of this, only $200M is for relief, the rest of for admin costs}
$7.5M to the Smithsonian for additional salaries

Below text added during a March 29 update —

Our healthcare policy response has also been tragic. Below is a list of problematic health initiatives. A couple articles are from today and yesterday, but several others are much older and I simply forgot to include them in the initial post.

Keep in mind that even prior to these policy response failures, the US healthcare system cannot be described as free market due to long-standing regulation and licensing, plus additional heavy-handed regulation and cost controls introduced more recently as part of Obamacare / ACA.

  1. Mar 29 2020, Gov. DeWine: FDA’s ‘reckless’ decision limits Battelle’s PPE mask sterilizing technology to only 10k a day
  2. Mar 3 2020, The Official Coronavirus Numbers Are Wrong, and Everyone Knows It
  3. Mar 5 2020, Why the CDC botched its coronavirus testing
  4. Mar 11 2020, Many private labs want to do coronavirus tests. But they’re still facing obstacles and delays
  5. Mar 24 2020, DHS wound down pandemic models before coronavirus struck
  6. Mar 28 2020, Explaining the science behind Sweden’s relaxed coronavirus approach
  7. Mar 25 2020, Inaccurate Virus Models Are Panicking Officials Into Ill-Advised Lockdowns
    1. This alternative model predicts just over 80k deaths in the USA total, in contrast to Ferguson’s original prediction of about 2.2M deaths in the USA.
    2. Ferguson is the epidemiologist who’s model kicked off COVID panic. Given social and policy responses, he downgraded his total mortality forecast for the UK from 500k deaths to 20k deaths. This downgraded prediction is basically exactly on par with the alternative model linked above.
    3. 80k deaths would be about twice as bad as the average flu season in the US in recent years.

Note that harming the economy is also a health issue. Contrast Sweden’s approach with the $6T US Stimulus.

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