Testing is NOT Influencing Case Counts Significantly

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As the pandemic was first unfolding, I had been posting data including case fatality rates (CFRs) as a means to determine fatal outcomes from the disease. This was before much testing was in place in large numbers. I had assumed that as testing increased, the CFR would drop as the denominator had become larger. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

As you can see from this data set, the CFR has settled at about 6%. The slightly downward curvature starting about mid-May is simply due to a lag in reporting the data. “It is important to note that it can take several weeks for death records to be submitted to National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), processed, coded, and tabulated. Therefore, the data shown on this page may be incomplete, and will likely not include all deaths that occurred during a given time period, especially for the more recent time periods.”

We can see this same lag in comparing the slopes of cases to deaths that I’ve been using in recent graphs. In about a month, I would suspect that these would align more closely for the May data. The sentence in the paragraph above also explains why the red death slope curve splits downward relative to the black case curve as the date gets closer to the present.

My conclusion from both of these pieces of evidence is that anyone who is making the argument that the increase in cases is simply due to increased testing is wrong. That could change in the future, but it is not evident in the current data.


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