Is The CDC Downplaying New York’s Failures By Listing NY State And NYC Separately In Database?


Data is an interesting and vital component of any political debate. While “numbers don’t lie,” the selective presentation of numbers can allow certain narratives to be pushed, and others to be hidden or dismissed.

This appears to be the case when it comes to COVID-19 statistics which — in their unedited form — provide evidence of the abject failure of New York’s COVID-19 response.

The database provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists various metrics which can be used to measure the impact of COVID-19 on the country. However, if you actually look closely at the data, even this high-level dataset makes a subtle change to the categorization of states which drastically affects many conclusions reached.

For example, if you were to analyze the total raw count of cases since January 21, 2020 on the CDC dataset, and group by state, you will see the following ranking:

  1. California (3,606,882 total cases).
  2. Texas (2,830,228 total cases).
  3. Florida (2,101,365 total cases).
  4. Illinois (1,288,934 total cases).
  5. Pennsylvania (1,087,792 total cases).
  6. Georgia (1,078,379 total cases).
  7. New York* (1,078,165 total cases).

Glancing at this list, it would be understandable for someone to conclude that New York’s COVID-19 response wasn’t nearly as disastrous as, say, California or Texas, based on these raw numbers. However, notice the asterisk attached to New York…

What does this asterisk denote? Well, buried in the footnotes of the dataset, the CDC states, “Counts for NYC and New York State are shown separately; data for New York State show total cases and deaths for the state excluding data for NYC.”

In fact, New York City is eleventh on the ranking based on total cases, with 897,272 total cases of COVID-19. By listing the state and city separately, both New York and New York City slide down the rankings. When combined — as they arguably should be — New York has a total of 1,975,437 COVID-19 cases, which would mean that New York would be ranked fourth, not seventh.

The same is true when we look at total deaths. When ranked by total deaths, New York City is fourth with 31,993. New York (without New York City) is ninth, with 19,098 deaths. Combined? New York has a total of 51,091 deaths, which would place the state second in the rankings, and only 8,281 deaths behind the “top spot,” California — a state with a population of almost 40 million, 20 million more than New York.

It should be noted that other data sources don’t separate New York and New York City. Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center and the New York Times, for example, only list data for New York as a whole.

This begs the obvious question: why is the CDC — a government agency — presenting data in a way that could enable a politically-advantageous analysis to be performed?

Why, indeed.

Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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