Massive death projections have been wrong



When President Donald Trump mobilized a health squad to advise him and the nation on the seriousness of the coronavirus epidemic he was given projections of death vastly exceeding the number of Americans who died in the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic. Initially these numbers were 2.2 million Americans. These later were reduced to 240,000. The latest IHME model, just out, has it at nearly 82,000 by August 1, 2020.

Now let’s be clear. All these numbers are unacceptable and involve real people: fathers, mothers grandparents and occasionally a child but always someone loved. Life matters. Any death is serious, of course, but this is only 20,000 more than death from the flu season of 2017-2018.

Why does this matter? Because it was these extreme projections of 2.2 million that were used as cause to shut down the economy and increase our indebtedness by perhaps $4 trillion dollars — an indebtedness more than all wars combined in American history.

What also concerns me is that most Democratic media outlets fed these panic inducing death counts from day one, even before evidence confirmed them. They now seem almost disappointed 1) with these new lower numbers, 2) that a drug used to treat malaria, hydroxy-chloroquine, is able to treat also the coronavirus, and 3) that this crisis is going to go away far too early.

Democrats still can not give Trump a win on managing this crisis. They loaded Congress’s $2 trillion relief bill with pork that had nothing to do with the virus itself, but did prolong passage of the bill designed to help millions of Americans desperately needing it.

My biggest concern, however, remains the weaponization of death projections seemingly to keep hysteria alive and well — and for what possible purpose? Who benefits from this hysteria? The media in modern history have never focused on the body count of flus that take thousands each year.

I am writing this on April 8, using the newly released death projections for April. By the time newspapers print this column on April 10 the projected death rate will be 22,239. By the time LibertyUnderFire subscribers read this April 14, deaths are projected to be 34,068. One week thereafter, April 17, it will be 43,279. By April 21 they are to be 54,857 By April 24, they are to be 62,089 and by April 28, they will be 68,938. Projections to Aug. 1 will be 81,766 dead Americans.

Deaths per day are to peak April 16 at 3,130 (IHME, COVID-19 Projections assuming full social distancing through May 2020, United States of America view at Readers can compare these numbers against reality as we approach these dates.

Still, the reduction of death by the panicked media is, for the rest of us, manna from heaven compared to the projections just 10 days before of 2.2 million dead Americans. The latest projected deaths in the United States of 82,000 in three months is unlikely to be reached. It might turn out to be even less than the 61,000 who died of influenza in the 2017-2018 season.

Most of us may never know anyone who actually died from the flu. Body count of the deceased did not lead the news every night causing us to hunker in our homes wondering if we would be next.

So here are the facts that are underreported or ignored by the panicked press. The odds of you getting this virus are much smaller than the hype, “based on the population tested, … rates can vary from, at most, eight-tenths of a percent in New York City to two-one-hundredths of a percent in Phoenix.” The few, out of 330 million Americans, that actually get this virus, at least 98% will recover from it.

There are models showing 50% of the population may have already had it, never knew they had it, and recovered (“An Advantaged Disease, Indeed.” By William J. Bennett & Seth Leibsohn, April 06, 2020). With these facts accurately reported it is unlikely that we would have shut down the economy.

They did not tell us of the 34,000 who died of influenza in last year’s 2018-2019 flu season, nor that we lose PER MONTH “about 54,000 Americans to heart disease; 50,000 to cancer; 14,000 to asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema; 12,000 to stroke; 10,000 to Alzheimer’s; 7,000 to diabetes; 5,600 to drug overdoses; and 4,700 to influenza and pneumonia.”

These deaths give us over 157,000 deaths PER MONTH” and no one shuts down the economy or cries out for a $2 trillion stimulus package. Apparently only the coronavirus alerts the panic response.

Again, all life matters and these too are horrifying unacceptable death numbers involving those we love. The media have no right to drive a panic without accurate, proportional (including the omissions noted above), supporting evidence that potentially could damage the economy beyond repair for years.

One piece of knowledge that would have helped reduce the media hysteria for young people is that only 7% of those who got it were under 50 years of age. We knew this early on. Allow them to return to work ASAP. Perhaps a better response to this epidemic would have been rather than shut down the economy, quarantine those over 65 and tell those younger not to visit them for a time.

[Dr. Harold W. Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit]


  1. So we had the 1918 Spanish Flu (no vaccine ever found), …. 1950’s Polio….1957 Asian Flu…1968 Hong Kong Flu…MERS…SARS…2009 H1N1…in none of these did we shut down the economy and people huddle/hide in their homes. We adapted.

    And all killed thousands (if not millions) and had a vaccine developed eventually. An newspaper article from January 2018 was detailing how bad the flu was that year, hospitals over run, make shift tents made outside, doctors/nurses over worked, ect. But we didn’t shut down the economy and enough ventilators were available. This time, Gov. Cumo said he needed 30k ventilators immediately ….only 5k have been used, hospitals sit empty. This virus is more deadlier for the elderly and pre existing patients, so quarantine them and have some social distancing. But shut down an economy and destroy even more lives?? BTW…hospitals are receiving 19K to list people on ventilators and 39K to list cause of death from this virus ….from the stimulus bill.

  2. As all of the reaction to this pandemic began to roll out, my first thought was, OK–a lot of people die from the flu every year. Can this be worse? I was eventually persuaded that, YES. This one is much worse. Probably the 24/7 bombardment from the daily deathcount on the 24/7 news exascerbated this worry. Also, both my parents lived through the 1918 Spanish Flu. They incessantly talked to me about it; almost as much as the told me about Pearl Harbor. Dad was in the Navy.
    Well, I reasoned, I’m not an epidemiologist-the nightmare doctors on the news must be right. So I worried.
    I didn’t read Bill Bennett’s article, but I did hear him discuss the gist of it on TV.
    Maybe we overreacted. Maybe my first impulses were correct.
    I am appalled that so many people have lost their jobs, that our robust economy has been so severely disrupted. All that I have experienced is the loss of weekly lunch friends and the unavailability of the usual product brands at the grocery store. I can deal with that.
    My life is simple. By choice. That is a true blessing.

  3. Well Stewart, for one why shut down the world’s greatest economy when we could easily “shelter in place” those of us who are actually at risk leaving the bulk of America’s workforce to maintain their jobs? Of course one would have to accept the personal responsibility of the risk, but that is largely something that those of your ilk avoid.
    Personally, I wish a better world for my progeny as do you.

    • All one has to do, is look to the other countries that have handled this pandemic more successfully than the United States. Testing. Testing. Testing. Put your resources into identifying the infected and confining those that meet certain criteria. PPE – everyone should have started wearing masks from the beginning. We can argue that stockpiles were depleted and lay blame all around for why that was. Fact is, we were discouraged from wearing them as they were not effective. Now, all of sudden they are being recommended. We would have been money ahead if we had hit this thing head on. We didn’t.
      Trump’s response has be abysmal. Now, before you get yourself all worked into a lather, remember this. The situation, we are now in, is due to Trump and his administration’s response. Trying to lay blame on others is futile. I mean, just a few days ago, he said and I quote “I have the ultimate authority.” So, how is it that he has the ultimate authority, but he continues to lay blame on everyone else for HIS abysmal response?
      Now, to address your ridiculous assumption that my “ilk” avoids personal responsibility. Why do I see the majority of people here in Fayette County, out and about, refusing to wear any PPE? Obviously, I do not know what political or ideological persuasion each of those people live by, but let’s use logic here. Fayette County is overwhelmingly RED. My many neighbors who are “at risk” as you state, are out and about numerous times a day, playing golf, pickle ball, going to their friends houses, having their friends in to see them, out to Walmart, out to Home Depot, chit-chatting with people on the cart paths in close proximity, etc.- no PPE. Those people – your people, are not taking personal responsibility.

      • Well Stewart, not all of us here in Fayette County ignore the PPE recommendations, but you would know that should you venture out of that monitor laden bunker. That aside, would you even fathom that someone would prefer individual liberties and take such risks?
        Perhaps its time to get out of your parents basement and take control of your life.

        • Mike, would you happen to be the Mike King that is the PTC Council member-Post 2? I’m curious why you didn’t address my post, rather you went right for the juvenile “parents basement” put-down. I’ve not lived under my parent’s roof for 31 years. I go out once a week to get groceries and walk on the cart paths near our home most every evening. My wife, nor my son have traveled in the car for nearly six weeks now. We are following the recommendations because we want EVERYONE to get back to some sense of normalcy sooner, rather than later. Bite the bullet and sacrifice your petty wants.
          Now for my own put-down. The problem with your individual liberties in times like these is not only are you risking your life, but you’re risking many others with your actions. We all want the freedom to go back to what we are accustomed to. Your mentality and that of many conservatives is that you only think of yourself. Me, me, me, and to hell with the rest. Your day is spent thinking about who is slighting you and how are they suppressing you and you only. You mantra is “survival of the fittest.” When are you going to realize that life is not all about you as an individual? Your actions impact others and always have. I know, I know, I’m painting with a broad brush here, but is it not true that when you complain about your civil liberties it’s always in the selfish sense?

          • Well Stewart, I did address your post expressing a personal opinion. I do have that right. Further, when slighted I will respond in kind.
            For your edification conservatives wish to retain the opportunities of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness as remunerated in our Constitution not only for ourselves but our posterity as well. Now, should you believe that is being self centered, we simply disagree.
            Moreover, you have no concept of how I spend my day, my level of fitness, nor my concern of others. I do agree that you “paint”with a very broad brush which I attribute to your political lean.
            Lastly, yes I’m the same Mike King.

          • Evolve Mike. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness is what we all strive to attain. At times, many of us realize, this ideology is temporarily set aside. These reasons vary and as you well know, over our long history, the people of our country have done just that – many times. Those with any sense realize that in times of trouble, we attempt to do what is best for everyone. Obviously, you’re not pleased with the current attempt. Can you tell me, who are these leaders that have made these god-awful decisions?

          • Actually, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” appear nowhere in the U.S. Constitution. Rather, these were Jefferson’s aspirations as we declared independence from Great Britain.

  4. Of course, the Monday morning quarterbacks come out of the woodwork. The author’s agenda is apparent as he completely glosses over the fact that these deaths are in ADDITION to all of the other medical ills this world faces. The volume of cases that need to be treated are in ADDITION to everything else we deal with. If we go back to the early stages of this pandemic, it was obvious that there were many unknowns and there still are. If we over-compensated, in preparation of the unknown, then so be it. Our current death toll could have been reduced if the world worked together and our government hadn’t put their heads in the sand.

    The human race has an internal will to survive and have it’s species continue to thrive. We have learned from our past experiences to make decisions that we are currently in. If you people are truly worried about the economy then you would be working on strategies for the future to reduce both health and economic fallout. The very reasons that past administrations instituted pandemic agencies was to “lessen the blow.” Obviously, the self-appointed Messiah, who is a self-proclaimed expert on everything, isn’t as smart as he thinks he is.

    Mike King, it’s easy to “lay out the facts” after they are already presented. How easily you are duped.

  5. Finally, someone with enough common sense to strip away the bovine excrement and simply lay out the facts as they are and not what some wish it to be.
    Paraphrasing Bill Bennett: Less than twenty years ago this country faced a substantial crisis and we took the mantra “Let’s Roll”, and now here we are as scared lemmings.
    My lifetime has demonstrated again and again that we as a country are better than this.