|How to Understand COVID-19 Numbers
Leaders and laypeople alike cherry pick COVID-19 data to best serve their point, generating conflicting information across news and social media. ProPublica offers detailed tips from epidemiologists to sort through the noise for truth in numbers.
For instance, to best understand the condition of a state, observe three counts together: number of cases, case positivity rates, and number of deaths. The number of deaths tracks the virus’ ultimate impact, case count shows the general trajectory of transmission, and a case positivity rate below 5% indicates that enough tests are being conducted to provide an accurate case count.
The numbers currently show that cases and hospitalizations have been rising, there are tens of thousands of new infections every day, there are not enough tests, and each day brings the deaths of hundreds of Americans. For leaders to accomplish change, they’ll have to “stop using partial trends to tell their own narratives” and focus on the work to be done.