How should we measure COVID-19 deaths?

The CDC’s new webpage Excess Deaths Associated with COVID-19 provides one method to measure pandemic related deaths:

Estimates of excess deaths presented in this webpage were calculated using Farrington surveillance algorithms (1). For each jurisdiction, a model is used to generate a set of expected counts, and the upper bound of the 95% Confidence Intervals (95% CI) of these expected counts is used as a threshold to estimate excess deaths. Observed counts are compared to these upper bound estimates to determine whether a significant increase in deaths has occurred. Provisional counts are weighted to account for potential underreporting in the most recent weeks. However, data for the most recent week(s) are still likely to be incomplete. Only about 60% of deaths are reported within 10 days of the date of death, and there is considerable variation by jurisdiction.

The interactive graphics allows the user to choose a jurisdiction and different data types. The graph here is for the U.S. and weekly excess deaths. All data can be downloaded as a csv file.

About Thomas J. Pfaff

Thomas J. Pfaff is a Professor of Mathematics at Ithaca College. He created this website because he believes that sustainability, ranging from climate change to social justice, should be included in all courses whenever possible.

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