Policy analyst criticizes ‘gross distortion’ of COVID-19 data


Lower numbers of COVID-19-related deaths were recorded among Asian Americans and African Americans compared to their proportion of the Texas population, according to the latest figures from the Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

A large gap, however, remains between the number of deaths among the Hispanic population and the overall population percentage. Although updated figures are not available on deaths associated with ethnicity in the city and county of Dallas, the number of cases can be partially broken down.

Of the 210,718 reported cases of COVID-19, 28% were Hispanic, 19% white, 10% black and 2% Asian. But in a large number of cases, 77,862 (37%), officials did not record ethnicity.

Across Texas, as of July 9, 51,313 COVID-19-related deaths had been recorded since the start of pandemic, including 23,822 Hispanic, 20,851 white, 5,244 African American and 1.092 Asian deaths.

In percentage terms, more than 46% of all fatalities occurred among Hispanics, 7% more than the nearly 40% of the total population.

Nationwide, of the approximately 600,000 who have died, 15.1% were African American, 2.6% more than the percentage of the total population.

Among all other groups, the percentage is lower than the proportion of the total population.

Houston-based policy analyst Bill King, a former mayoral candidate, has looked at the raw data and coverage and concludes that there has been “a persistent media narrative that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected ethnic minorities.”

He cited a recent Houston Chronicle op-ed that ran under the headline of “We must learn from the historic decimation of Hispanic communities,” which reported analysis by Stanford Medical School’s Dr. Jorge Caballero that 60% of the deaths among non-Hispanic whites in Texas were over the age of 75.

Conversely, deaths in the Hispanic community have been more common in younger people. Approximately 60% of deaths in this demographic were younger than 75, including roughly 8,500 men and women between the ages of 35 to 64, according to the research.

According to its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weighted the data to account for age and “how the race and Hispanic origin population is distributed in relation to the geographic areas impacted by COVID-19,” King said.

“Of course, the more severe outbreaks have mostly urban areas where ethnic minorities are more heavily concentrated. As a result, this methodology would necessarily increase the fatality prevalence in minority groups,” King told the Dallas Express. “After the CDC ‘weighting,’ the relative fatality rate for Latinos and Asians almost doubles and the rate for whites is cut in half. Interestingly, there is a very small change for African Americans.”

“The CDC contends that the weighting more accurately represents the fatality rates in each ethnic group,” he added. “To me it appears to be a gross distortion of the raw data.”

King also believes reporting deaths by ethnicity has not taken into account the actual data, noting that a Google search of coronavirus deaths and ethnicity returned 1.3 million results.

“I scanned through the first 20 results,” King said. “I did not find a single article which reported the raw data on comparative fatalities. Instead every article I scanned maintained that there was a large disparity, using words like ‘devastating’ and ‘catastrophic.’ None described how the raw data had been altered by the ‘weighting’ methodologies.'”

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