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Getting to Accuracy: Measuring COVID-19 by Mortality Rates and Percentage Changes


Abstract: Comparing the trajectory of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States to that of other countries can provide important insights into how the virus is progressing in the United States and the effectiveness of our response. The quality of those insights depends on the data we choose to compare and how we conduct that comparison. This report argues that cumulative mortality rates and their percentage changes are the best available measures for comparing the trajectory of the epidemic in different countries. Based on these measures, the epidemic in the United States has a similar mortality rate to those in Europe and is more deadly than in China and South Korea.

Keywords: COVID-19;

https://doi.org/10.26509/frbc-ddb-20200408

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

Source: Cleveland Fed District Data Brief

Publication Date: 2020-04-08

Number: 20200408

Note: (1) The author has updated this report as of April 13, 2020. See note below chart 1 for specifics.

Note: (2) Since the District Data Brief was completed, additional evidence shows that COVID-19 deaths have been underreported, both in other countries and in the United States. The charts present the recent CSSE data, with no attempt to further correct for underreporting. See https://www.clevelandfed.org/newsroom-and-events/publications/cfed-district-data-briefs/cfddb-20200513-covid19-mortality-rate-trends-series.aspx.