Sometimes the numbers don’t add up right

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, April 8, 2020

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J David Derosier

As many of my readers know, I’m a words-guy, a “wordsmith”. I’m also a numbers-guy. When numbers don’t seem right, I have a tendency to dig deeper. That’s where I am right now with the numbers being reported by the media about the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting global panic that is destroying our economy – worldwide.

As a senior citizen with an existing lung condition, all the media are reporting that I am in the highest risk category of contracting COVID-19; I am also at the highest risk of dying.  Good reason for me to dig a little deeper into the numbers, eh?

The economy is going to hell right now in the USA. It is also tanking throughout the world.  If everyone has to be house-bound, who’s going to spend money? Who’s going to earn money? If you can’t pay your rent, how can your landlord pay his mortgage on the property? It’s a vicious circle.


On April 4th 2020, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), at 9:37 in the morning, published the following numbers about COVID-19. There were 1,141,378 cases worldwide, and 61,000 of those cases had resulted in the death of the patient. Remember, this is worldwide.

Just under 25% of those cases were in the USA, and had already resulted in 7,500 deaths. USA deaths represented about 12% of the worldwide deaths. Statistically, at least, our death rate at that moment was less than half of the global number.

Here in Texas, we had about 2% of the national cases, and 2% of the deaths. Not bad considering that we have more than 8% of the population. New York, on the other hand, had more than 100,000 cases by Sunday morning, over 37% of the national cases including over 3,000 deaths. And that’s with 1/3 less people than live in Texas.

Simple numbers: Texas has been far less affected than New York. Compared to the global statistics, the USA has a large number of cases, but the death rate is much less than the rest of the world, percentage-wise. However, there are still 7,500 deaths reported so far (Sunday morning) and there will be more to come.

So, as a numbers-guy, I got to thinking about how this might compare with mundane, every day, diseases, like influenza – which is seasonal and comes every year. You know, the disease that flu shots are for. That’s all that people seem to panic about with the flu.


Because influenza diseases are not always reported to medical authorities, it is extremely difficult to get numbers – especially for the current season which will go on for a few more months. As a result, I will use “full season” CDC results from prior years.

For the flu season that ended last year (spring), there were 35,520,883 cases in the USA. Compare that to 279,500 for COVID-19 so far. Yes, you read it right – 35 million for flu, ¼ million for COVID-19. Last year flu deaths in the USA were over 34,000. As opposed to 7,500 for COVID-19 so far.

The worst flu season we had was in 2017-2018, with 45 million cases and 61,000 deaths – in the USA alone! Think about that…COVID-19 has killed 61,000 people worldwide, influenza did it in one season in our own country, without killing the economy at the same time. Interesting, eh?


The flu hits lots more people, but has a lower rate of mortality.  That said, influenza still kills much more people than COVID-19.

Of the 850,000 plus active COVID-19 cases as of Sunday morning, less than 40,000 people are categorized as “serious or critical” and hospitalized around the world. Contrast that with last year’s flu season (not the worst), when in the USA alone almost 500,000 people were hospitalized. That’s more than 10 times the number in hospital today for COVID-19.


I have no idea who is behind the panic, or why. The world economy has been shut down (supposedly) because of this new coronavirus pandemic. OK, it’s new. OK, we don’t have a vaccine for it. OK, it spreads faster. But look at the results!

Every year the annual flu, in its many varieties, JUST IN THE USA, kills more people and hospitalizes more people than COVID-19 has done globally.

Really makes one stop and think. Why is it that we can survive the annual flu season, with all its damage, on a regular basis, while some new disease with apparently far fewer physical consequences can take down the world?

Almost enough to make a rational person start to look at all those secret conspiracy theories a second time, or a third time, or…

Anyway, I looked at the numbers and they just don’t seem to add up right. Maybe I’m just getting too old, or maybe it’s the “New Math” that I never learned.

What do you think?  Write to this newspaper or send me an email if you agree…or disagree. Thanks.

J.David Derosier consults with small business on planning and marketing issues, and provides web design and hosting services through, an accredited business with theBetter Business Bureau that is rated A+ by BBB. He can be reached at