FACT CHECK: Facebook Post Falsely Claims COVID-19 Death And Case Statistics Are ‘Totally Fake’
A post shared on Facebook claims COVID-19 death and case statistics are “totally fake.”
The COVID-19 case and death statistics reported by the U.S. are not fake. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) receives its data on both from local, state and territorial health departments, which get their data from hospitals, health care providers and laboratories.
Misinformation related to official COVID-19 death and case statistics have circulated on social media throughout the pandemic. This particular post attempts to suggest both are totally fake, with what appears to be a play on one of Twitter’s labels for misleading information beneath its inaccurate claim.
The CDC makes data on both COVID-19 deaths and cases publicly available and, contrary to the post’s claim, the statistics provided aren’t fake. The COVID-19 case and death statistics on the COVID Data Tracker are reported to the CDC by local, state and territorial health departments through the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System. Those public health departments get the data from hospitals, health care providers and laboratories, according to the CDC website.
The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) also provides provisional COVID-19 death counts based on death certificate data submitted by local and state jurisdictions. The NCHS provisional COVID-19 death counts “may not match counts from other sources” and often lag a couple weeks behind other data because of the time it takes to complete death certifications and the different rates at which states report the data, among other reasons, according to the CDC.
As of Aug. 12, there have been over 36.2 million COVID-19 cases and over 617,000 deaths in the U.S. since Jan. 21, 2020, according to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker. (RELATED: Viral Image Claims The CDC Director Said COVID-19 Vaccines Are ‘Failing’)
The CDC isn’t the only organization that tracks COVID-19 case and death statistics. For example, The New York Times publishes U.S. COVID-19 case and death statistics based on data released by local and state health officials, according to its website. Johns Hopkins University also aggregates data from various public health agencies in the U.S. and around the world to create its COVID-19 maps. The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center reports there have been over 205 million COVID-19 cases and over 4.3 million deaths globally, at the time of publication.
The notion that COVID-19 death statistics are “totally fake” is inconsistent with excess mortality data. An analysis by The Economist found that the COVID-19 death statistics reported in many countries are likely undercounts. The CDC also publishes data about excess deaths associated with COVID-19.
Check Your Fact previously debunked the false claim that the CDC “quietly updated” its COVID-19 death count to show that only 9,210 people “actually died” from the disease.