Donald Trump is Deceiving Americans With Unreliable Covid-19 Projections
Die hard Trump supporters only trust him for Coronavirus news and information — Trump needs to give it to them straight
We’ve been lied to about the potential death toll in this country and that matters.
The warping of the conversation about death tolls is problematic. People who warn of dire consequences get labeled fear mongers, or worse. Some are accused of wanting to be right at all costs. All this wrangling cheapens our losses.
It wasn’t a month ago that the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), touted by Trump, released a 60,000 estimated death forecast. I participated in a conversation with the lead modeler and reported what I heard. At the time, even with the hope that Americans would #StayHome, the reasonable estimates of most models were 100,000–250,000, in some cases higher. In some cases much higher.
IHME’s forecast of 60,000 deaths was a bomb let off by the White House. It sent a clear message — this virus is overblown hype. We got this. 60,000 is a number Americans can “tolerate.” It sounds vaguely like a bad flu. The president was quick to come out and claim success for this new number, even though his team had told him 100k-250k. We could have had over a million deaths, but now it will be 50–60k. For many governors and Trump supporters, it was all they needed to hear.
In my estimation, something the president gets wrong is the public’s tolerance for bad news. Bad news served up straight. Hope and plans are good but only when they are rooted in reality. 60k was another version of “gone by April” or “15 going to zero.”
One reason I avoid criticizing these models is the people who put them together are doing something unknowable, have different purposes, will be wrong be definition, and exponential growth means wide confidence intervals depending on assumptions.
As soon as Trump unleashed the 60,000 number, my Twitter mentions filled up with “I-told-you-so’s” from the people who told me I was wrong when I shared that scientists in March were telling me they could foresee a death toll over 1 million if we didn’t dramatically reduce the infection…