Why Trump’s focus on falling death rates could be dangerous

Death rates tell nothing about the current spread of the virus and only offer a snapshot of where the country was roughly three weeks ago. If the caseloads in states like Texas, Arizona and Florida are any indication, the U.S. will almost certainly see a spike in deaths in July that could undermine the entire nationwide reopening effort.

“If you’re going to do that with the death rate, you should be prepared to look at the death rate in a month or so,” said William Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard’s school of public health. “You might not find it so attractive.”…

The nationwide death rate over the last two weeks is about 2.6 percent of all known cases, or roughly half of what it was since the pandemic began.

But public health officials say Trump’s logic is backwards and could give people a false sense of security. The very testing the president blames for increasing case numbers is keeping the death rate low, particularly by identifying younger people who are more likely to be out and could unknowingly be spreading disease.