February 21, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

COVID case hype pushes fear despite good news in the data

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There’s considerable good news in this week’s COVID-19 update but you wouldn’t know it from media and many government officials, as their COVID case hype seems mostly about pushing fear and more government control.  They focus on the number of weekly cases setting a new record but ignore facts, like Kansas recorded the fewest number of deaths last week — just 8 — since the week ended March 30.  The mortality rate (288 total deaths as a percentage of 20,058 total cases) also set a new record low of 1.4% according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).

Nursing homes account for just 5% of cases statewide but 58% of the deaths, bringing the non-nursing home COVID mortality rate down to 0.6% in Kansas.

A dramatic rise in the number of cases coupled with declining mortality indicates many of the new cases being identified are not severe, but KDHE is not releasing data differentiating the nature of new cases between asymptomatic, mild, and severe.

As the Sentinel first reported two weeks ago, a noticeable increase in COVID cases between late April and early May didn’t result in more people dying.

Kansas had a four-week case spike in late April and early May, but COVID deaths didn’t increase in subsequent weeks, which is more good news.  Weekly deaths peaked at 38 on April 20 but averaged just 18 per week during the four-week jump beginning the week of April 27 and that average held for the subsequent four weeks.  The next four-week period beginning June 22 and ending today saw a 181% case increase but deaths declined by 40%, average just 11 per week.

The vast majority of new cases last week — 74% — occurred in the five largest counties of Johnson, Sedgwick, Wyandotte, Shawnee, and Douglas.  There were no new cases in 27 counties and another 35 counties reported five or fewer new cases.

Johnson County sets new records

Things in Johnson County, the state’s most populous, are similar to statewide conditions, with media, County Commission Chair Ed Eilert, and the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce using the COVID case hype to push for more control over citizens even though deaths and hospitalizations are declining.

Over the last five weeks, KSDE says there was a 362% increase in new cases over the previous five weeks, but new deaths fell 12% to 4.4 per week and new hospitalizations dropped 18% to just 7.4 per week.  The week ended today saw just two deaths and three new hospitalizations.  Data on deaths and hospitalization come from Johnson County.

Every death is tragic and it would be better to have cases trending down, but there’s a lot of encouraging news in the COVID data that media and government officials oddly ignore.

At least one legislator, Rep. Ron Highland (R-Wamego), thinks media and some government officials are using the COVID case hype unnecessarily disrupting Kansans’ economic well-being for political purposes.

“We have reached the point of excessive reaction to Covid-19.  People are angry and wondering aloud how much more government control of their lives are they going to permit.  I have faith in people.  Give them the facts and allow them to decide the level of comfort and risk they are willing to take.  How many businesses must fail and how much damage can the state economy take due to iatrogenic cause?”

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