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Sources within the Trump administration have claimed that lead coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx suspects the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are unintentionally inflating coronavirus case counts and death rates.
Speaking with The Washington Post, the unnamed sources cited a heated Wednesday discussion between Birx and CDC Director Robert Redfield over this very matter.
“Birx and others were frustrated with the CDC’s antiquated system for tracking virus data, which they worried was inflating some statistics — such as mortality rate and case count — by as much as 25 percent, according to four people present for the discussion or later briefed on it,” the Post reported Saturday, citing its anonymous sources.
Birx was reportedly so frustrated that she allegedly blurted out, “There is nothing from the CDC that I can trust.”
Two senior administration officials have confirmed that there was a meeting but denied that it was heated.
Media: Why doesn’t the President listen to the scientists! Apparently he does – Dr. Deborah Birx, said in a recent meeting that “there is nothing from the CDC that I can trust,” The Washington Post reported. #trump #CDCGuidance
— MARK SIMONE (@MarkSimoneNY) May 10, 2020
Contacted by the Post in regard to what happened, Birx issued a statement neither confirming or denying the sources’ allegations but simply highlighting the fact that the coronavirus death rate is indeed declining, according to data.
“Mortality is slowly declining each day. To keep with this trend, it is essential that seniors and those with comorbidities shelter in place and that we continue to protect vulnerable communities,” she reportedly said.
The Post tried to push back on her assertion by citing old data from “last week.” But the chart below from Worldometers does indeed show the death rare declining both on a micro-level (within the past few days) and a macro one (within the past few weeks):
Birx’s alleged assessment of the situation fits with other reports suggesting that both the predicted coronavirus death rates and the official coronavirus death rate have been grossly inflated because of various factors, including classification.
“If COVID–19 played a role in the death, this condition should be specified on the death certificate. In many cases, it is likely that it will be the [underlying cause of death], as it can lead to various life-threatening conditions, such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS),” CDC guidelines from last month read.
This is problematic because the claim that it’s likely that coronavirus “will be the [underlying cause of death]” is an assumption.
Earlier this month the investigative group Project Veritas released footage of multiple New York City area funeral directors admitting that the dead are being classified as having died from coronavirus, even in cases where they never tested positive.
“To be honest with you, all of the death certificates, they’re writing COVID on all the death certificate, whether they had a positive test, whether they didn’t,” one funeral director said.
“So, I think, you know, again, this is my personal opinion, I think that like the mayor in our city, they’re looking for federal funding and, the more they put COVID on the death certificate, the more they can ask for federal funds. So I think it’s political.”
Watch the full report below:
Another factor is limited testing. As testing has ramped up in recent weeks, so have the number of coronavirus cases. Researchers nevertheless suspect the real number of positives is far beyond what’s been determined thus far.
A study out of Stanford University in California published last month found that though Santa Clara County had reported only 1,000 positive cases as of early April, the real number was likely 48,000 or 81,000, or 50 to 85 times greater.
This matters because if the number of cases is significantly higher, then the death rate would be significantly lower, given as the death rate is determined by diving the total number of deaths by the total number of cases.
Case in point: According to data released by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department on April 17th, the county boasted 1870 total cases and 73 total deaths, meaning a death rate of 3.9 percent. By using the numbers found by Stanford University would have deflated the death rate to only .07 percent or .04 percent.
Meanwhile, the CDC has been warning the public that infections and deaths will likely spike in those Republican-led states such as Georgia where the governor has chosen to prematurely lift any coronavirus lockdown measures.
“It will be at least two to three weeks before we see an increase in the number of infections because it takes time for individuals to infect others and for them to display symptoms,” CDC data scientist Youyang Gu said to CNN this weekend.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the CDC’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned similarly last month.
[I]f I were advising the governor, I would tell him that he should be careful and I would advise him not to just turn the switch on and go, because there is a danger of a rebound,” he said during an April 22nd briefing when pressed about Georgia’s then-impending reopening.
“And I know there’s that desire to move ahead quickly. That’s a natural human nature desire, but going ahead and leapfrogging into phases where you should not be, I would advise him as a health official and as a physician not to do that.”
Yet weeks later, Georgia is faring spectacularly:
Today marks the lowest number of COVID-19 positive patients currently hospitalized statewide (1,203) since hospitals began reporting this data on April 8th.
Today also marks the lowest total of ventilators in use (897 with 1,945 available).
We will win this fight together! pic.twitter.com/byxACEiQCp
— Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) May 9, 2020
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