Always Adjust COVID-19 Deaths for Population

This chart shows the total number of people who died in 2018 in nine different developed countries:

Yikes! People are dying like flies in the United States. What’s going on? Obesity? Lung cancer? Deaths of despair?

Of course not. We have a lot of deaths because we have a large population. Here’s the death toll per million:

As it happens, the US is a little below average in deaths per capita. This is probably because our population is a little younger than the other countries, but in any case, the differences aren’t huge.

Nobody in their right mind would present the top chart as evidence of anything much. It’s obviously meaningless thanks to the large range of populations. If you want to study death rates, you need to look at deaths per capita. The same thing applies to deaths from COVID-19:

Our death total of 90,000 sounds bad, but it’s mostly because we’re a big country. If you look at COVID-19 deaths per capita, as you should, we’re about average among developed Western countries.

This might not always be true, of course. If other countries have the virus under control while we see a resurgence next month, then our death rate per capita could become one of the highest. But it isn’t yet.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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