Dori: Is state exaggerating COVID-19 death numbers?

May 19, 2020, 5:43 AM | Updated: 10:43 am
Gov. Jay Inslee...
Gov. Inslee. (Office of the Governor, Medium)
(Office of the Governor, Medium)

Jay Inslee is constantly talking about “data” — about how he is using facts and statistics to help guide him as the state recovers from a devastating economic meltdown. But what if his data is greatly exaggerated? And what would be the reason for the state cooking the books on such a vital matter?

In a stunning analysis of the actual numbers, the Freedom Foundation claims that our state Department of Health has over-reported the actual death count from coronavirus, perhaps by as much as 13%.

Freedom Foundation research indicates the DOH’s reported COVID-19 death total is inflated due to state’s practice of counting every person who tests positive for COVID-19 and subsequently dies, even if the death was not directly caused by COVID-19.

What this means is that, if a person tests positive for coronavirus in March, and then dies in a car accident in May, the state is calling that a coronavirus death. The state of Colorado was using the same shady calculations for their death count until they were busted last week by local media there.

That leads to the obvious question: For a governor who talks incessantly about facts and data, what is the political motivation to exaggerate our state’s COVID-19 death count?

At his Monday press conference, Inslee did not deny the state’s faulty data. He claimed to not know about the issue. And then he bizarrely complained about the reporting being the work of conspiracy theorists.

“I have no reason to doubt the fatality numbers we’re using in the State of Washington right now,” Inslee said. “The problem is, you’ve got some people out there who are fanning these conspiracy flames from the planet Pluto. And it’s just disgusting what they’re trying to say with all these crazy deep-state malarkey.”

Inslee says he’s using data to reopen the state. But then complains about reporting that shows his data is off by a significant margin. How can he be trusted to bring us back from the economic abyss?

Also at his Monday presser, the Olympia press corps showed another failure to do its job and hold the governor responsible for his words and actions. As we reported last week, Inslee went on Bernie Sanders’ website and called our economic devastation an “opportunity” for his climate change agenda.

“This has always been an economic opportunity … we should not be intimidated by people who say you should not use this COVID crisis to peddle a solution to climate change … we can’t use COVID as an excuse for inaction on climate change … they’re both so similar … based on an understanding of science,” Inslee said.

A million people in our state are newly unemployed. Tens of thousands of business owners are facing financial ruin. And our governor looks at this as a great opportunity.

Shockingly, not one member of the media asked Inslee about what he revealed with his own words to be a huge part of his agenda. Part of the media’s inability to do its job is carefully crafted by the governor and his staff. Certain reporters are not allowed to ask questions. Those who do get through are immediately muted after their question, making follow-up queries impossible.

Exaggerating the death count. Seeing families’ financial lives in ruin as a climate opportunity. And a press-conference structure designed to give Inslee a free pass on all of this. That is a toxic combo brewing in Olympia.

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Dori: Is state exaggerating COVID-19 death numbers?