Media and Government Playing Down Coronavirus Plague Case Counts

Media and Government Playing Down Coronavirus Plague Case Counts

NEW YORK (AP) — For two years, coronavirus case counts and hospitalizations have been widely used barometers of the pandemic’s march across the world.

But the omicron wave is making a mess of the usual statistics, forcing news organizations to rethink the way they report such figures.

“It’s just a data disaster,” said Katherine Wu, staff writer who covers COVID-19 for The Atlantic magazine.

The number of case counts soared over the holidays, an expected development given the emergence of a variant more transmissible than its predecessors.

Yet these counts only reflect what is reported by health authorities. They do not include most people who test themselves at home, or are infected without even knowing about it. Holidays and weekends also lead to lags in reported cases.

If you could add all those numbers up — and you can’t — case counts would likely be substantially higher.

For that reason, The Associated Press has recently told its editors and reporters to avoid emphasizing case counts in stories about the disease. That means, for example, no more stories focused solely on a particular country or state setting a one-day record for number of cases, because that claim has become unreliable.

Source: AP

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