Horowitz: Simple arithmetic demonstrates that the epidemic, outside nursing homes, is essentially over

· May 7, 2020  
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We are weeks past the peak of coronavirus hospitalizations, yet the reported national death numbers keep rising 2,000 or more every single day. It made no sense to anyone who has followed the curves in any other country, but now we have our answer. The Hartford Courant reported that 90% of all deaths in Connecticut last week were in senior care facilities. This explains why these increased deaths don’t make sense with the reality of empty hospitals in most places.

This revelation should change everything we know about the current state of affairs with coronavirus. Governors are justifying the continued lockdown by pointing to rising deaths, sometimes significantly, in many states and counties. But it now appears, using simple arithmetic, that in most states, the overwhelming majority of deaths are in nursing homes, and in some states and counties, nearly every new death is in a senior facility. And in fact, even in nursing homes, it appears that while numbers are being recorded now, the actual deaths occurred earlier during the peak. Nothing else matters until this fact comes to life.

80%-90% of new deaths, 50%+ total deaths are in senior care facilities

As I reported yesterday, not only do deaths in nursing homes now compose more than 50% (and in some states as high as 80%) of total deaths from the beginning of the entire epidemic, that percentage is sharply increasing in every state day by day. This means that nearly all the new deaths, depending on the state, are occurring in nursing homes.

Every state has a recorded death count that you can track by date, but the recording of the subcategory of nursing home deaths is pretty new in most states, and there is no cumulative tally by date. Nonetheless, using news reports and data from previous dates, we can easily see how many of the new total deaths since then were from nursing homes.

Phil Kerpen has recorded these numbers in his Twitter account, and I have independently verified them by going to each state’s database.

Those are some state numbers of the total nursing home deaths in a respective state’s overall deaths since the beginning of the epidemic. But then you have Virginia, where there have been new recorded nursing home deaths that are higher than the entire total from the past week.

What this demonstrates is that not only are most new deaths occurring in nursing homes, some of them are also being backfilled into the count now that states are beginning to focus on nursing homes as an important demographic data point. This means that depending on the state, either some of the deaths weren’t originally recorded at all during the peak weeks, or they were recorded in the state’s total but because the patient died in a hospital, they weren’t initially listed as a nursing home death, even though the patient came from such a facility.

I’m seeing the same thing in my home state of Maryland. There have been 317 new recorded deaths in Maryland from April 28 through May 6, and 333 from nursing homes! Again, clearly, not only are there few coronavirus deaths outside nursing homes any more, but even some of the nursing home deaths are either being added retroactively to the state’s overall total or having the effect of revising the previously reported non-nursing home subtotal down because they are now researching past hospital deaths of nursing home patients.

For example, in Baltimore County, 124 of 149 total deaths occurred in these facilities. That is 83% of all deaths. But if you tally the numbers since April 29, there are 59 new nursing home deaths, even though the total county deaths only went up by 55.

Different states and counties have varying numbers. In Minnesota, for example, 89 percent of the new deaths recorded on Tuesday were in nursing homes. Some might not be quite as dramatic, but they tell the same story. The curve has long been flattened, the deaths have nearly stopped in most areas of the country outside nursing homes, and even in nursing homes, some of the numbers are being backfilled, and there are serious questions about the data and criteria for coding these deaths.

This is why some counties in Pennsylvania are asking the state to be transparent and separate out nursing home deaths from other deaths per day. They are being told they cannot open up because there are still people dying, but the question of whether the tragedy is largely confined to nursing homes or whether it’s widespread makes a huge difference. Most counties in Pennsylvania are seeing upwards of 80% of deaths occurring in nursing homes in recent days and weeks. The government of Livingston, New Jersey, is making the same request because 80% of all recorded deaths are occurring in long-term care facilities, and the growth of that share of the pie is accelerating every day.

I have checked over 30 states that produce data on nursing home deaths and have found that in each one, the share of deaths that nursing homes compose of the statewide total has dramatically increased to varying degrees over the past 1-3 weeks.

The implication is that there is no excuse whatsoever not to open up the country and throw all our resources at protecting nursing homes. But it also raises questions as to what is going on with the count in nursing homes.

A scary national death tally built on questionable nursing home data

Fox News reported on Tuesday regarding the New York numbers: “Exactly how many nursing home residents have died remains uncertain despite the state’s latest disclosure, as the list doesn’t include nursing home residents who were transferred to hospitals before dying.”

At least during the peak time, that could have been a large number, if not the majority of nursing home deaths. This could shed light on what is going on now. Could it be that the numbers aren’t surging quite as much as the toplines suggest, but that some states are now recording more prior deaths as nursing home deaths? The implication of this would mean that even the states that have less than 50% of deaths recorded from nursing homes, such as New York (it’s about 36%) might wind up all being over 50%. The Washington Post already predicts that more than half of the nation’s total deaths are in nursing homes. That would mean that no more than 36,000 deaths so far were ever from non-nursing home patients and that nearly none of them are now.

Then there is also the issue of reliability of the data. There are concerns overall that too many people who tested positive for COVID-19 but died of “a clear alternate cause,” to quote Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, are being added to the count. However, this concern is magnified now that most of the numbers are coming from nursing homes. We know that once the virus gets into nursing homes, the overwhelming majority, if not all, of residents will test positive for the virus, as we’re seeing in other confined spaces, such as ships and prisons. While it is very deadly and dangerous for them, clearly not all who die in nursing homes are dying of COVID-19. People die fairly suddenly in nursing homes every day, probably more so than anywhere else.

Take New York’s nursing home death data, for example. States and counties began adding “presumptive” deaths to the overall fatality count in recent weeks. But usually the presumptive deaths are only a fraction of the confirmed deaths, and with New York’s overall total deaths, that fact is no different. Now, take a look at these numbers in New York just for nursing home deaths:

Confirmed: 2418

Presumed: 2585

There are actually more presumed deaths than confirmed deaths among the nursing home demographic. That is astounding. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to smell something fishy.

Remember, roughly 20%-24% of all deaths in America every year occur in nursing homes, and studies have shown that most die from dementia (36%), cardiovascular issues (30%), or pulmonary issues (23%). It’s very easy to see how, now that they are testing everyone in these homes, and most are likely testing positive, any typical death would be coded as a COVID-19 death.

Then there is the question of how many nursing home patients are dying now as a result of decisions by governors to force nursing homes to take back patients from hospitals after they tested positive for the virus. We know this had devastating results in the tristate area around New York City, and now Governor Gavin Newsom is doubling down on the same policy in California.

We need transparency

With our entire way of life destroyed because of false arithmetic and false science, what is the CDC doing with the tens of billions of dollars we gave it? At a minimum, they should publish a breakdown every day of the following:

  • How many nursing home residents died, as distinct from those who died among the general population, along with a state-by-state breakdown.
  • How many deaths occurred on the day they were recorded vs. how many were backfilled.
  • How many of the nursing home deaths are confirmed as having died as a result of the virus, as opposed to just having tested positive (like tens of millions of Americans who likely had the virus but didn’t get a severe case).
  • How many coronavirus patients were admitted straight from hospitals to nursing homes, broken down by state.
  • The results of any antibody serology tests the CDC has conducted (there’s no way they haven’t, and if they didn’t, that would be criminal) and a full breakdown of the real fatality rate, stratified for each cohort of age, gender, race, and health status. If they don’t have this data, then what is the purpose of throwing tens of billions at them?
  • A definitive national and state-by-state number of how many of the 72,000+ deaths were in long-term senior care facilities.

The reason we need independent conservative writers like me to investigate what should be the most publicized data ever is because our overlords do not want us to discover what these results would reveal.

Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.