DHHS Makes North Carolina Dead Last in Reporting Deaths Data to the CDC | Beaufort County Now | The last week for which the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has reported deaths data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is May 16. | john locke foundation, department of health and human services, DHHS, reporting deaths, coronavirus, covid-19, deaths data, CDC, july 15, 2020

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

DHHS Makes North Carolina Dead Last in Reporting Deaths Data to the CDC

Publisher's note: The author of this post is Jon Sanders for the John Locke Foundation.

    The last week for which the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has reported deaths data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is May 16.

    We are the absolute last in the nation in reporting these data. It's not even close. North Carolina is a month and a half behind most other states and territories. Our closest competitor in lax reporting is West Virginia, which is still three weeks ahead of us.

    These data are very important, especially during a pandemic, so it's baffling why DHHS is withholding them.

A useful CDC tool: Excess deaths analysis

    The CDC has an interesting tool for helping pinpoint an unusual outbreak of deaths in a part of the country, regardless of the reason, at a particular moment in time. It's called "Excess Deaths." It tracks a state's average amount of deaths at that moment in time, estimated over a number a years, and predicts what the "expected deaths" will be for that time period in the future.

    Actual deaths will differ, of course, from expected deaths. As long as the actual deaths are below a 95 percent confidence interval for expected deaths, the CDC reckons there are no unusual causes of deaths in that time period (e.g., a flu). If actual deaths exceed that threshold, however, those "excess deaths" alert the CDC that there is an unusual cause of death in that jurisdiction.

    A pandemic like COVID-19 or a particularly bad outbreak of influenza could push a state into "excess deaths" territory. What makes this method so useful is that it doesn't worry about judgment calls over the actual causes of deaths. It compares total deaths in a state during a period of time with the past history of deaths in that state at that same time of the year. It isn't affected by uncertainties over classification of deaths from a pandemic like COVID-19 or the flu. (For more discussion, see Dr. Donald R. van der Vaart's discussion of the potential mixup in determining cause of death from COVID-19, flu, or pneumonia.)

    Given such reporting uncertainty, which is greater when there's a pandemic in the mix, it's very useful in general to know whether a society is witnessing more deaths than normal. All the more so when the fear of hospital overruns and widespread death are the basis for severe, government-imposed economic and personal restrictions.

The week ending May 16

    Back on May 16, North Carolina was one of only nine states whose high estimate for percent of excess deaths was zero. The others were Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

    It's reasonable to infer that North Carolina hasn't witnessed excess deaths in the weeks following May 16. The state already was below the excess deaths threshold then, and COVID deaths were already declining — a decline that accelerated in subsequent weeks.

    What if, by reporting deaths like other states have been doing, DHHS would also be showing that North Carolina isn't experiencing excess deaths due to COVID? Would such data disclosure undermine justifications for the Cooper administration's harsh and protracted business shutdowns, half-shutdowns, and severe economic and personal restrictions?


Latest Op-Ed & Politics

Pot calling kettle black: Another example of the hypocrisy of the Left/Democrats
More and more school districts are making decisions not to return students to in-class instruction until early spring
Today, America's second Fake Impeachment of Donald J. Trump, just days before he leaves office, may speak more about those Impeaching the President than he who is indicted.
Former State Board of Elections Chairman Josh Howard says there could be dire consequences for future elections if the governor is allowed to appoint a judge to a newly created Wake County District Court seat.
Two banks that previously did business with President Donald Trump are cutting him off following the Jan. 6 riot in the U.S. Capitol.
Alan Jacobs’ new book, Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind, is a coaxing argument to read “old books that come from strange times.”
Hayden Ludwig writes for the Washington Free Beacon about a new method for left-of-center money men to bankroll their favorite political causes.


The Supreme Court struck a blow for good government Wednesday when it upheld Texas' restrictions on mail in ballots
Nearly a month after COVID-19 vaccines made it to North Carolina, the state has administered only a quarter of the doses it has on hand — one of the slowest roll-outs in the country.
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook has now joined the ranks of those of us who have created moderated informational platforms that act as a hybrid publication.
The number of Republican lawmakers in the House who support impeaching President Donald Trump is growing, which could make the move just seven days before the president leaves office a bipartisan effort.
Christopher Bedford of the Federalist explores the political left’s attempt to turn last week’s disgusting Capitol attack for political gain.
COVID-19 and the ongoing fallout from the pandemic will likely dominate the 2021-22 session of the General Assembly.
Just a few months ago Democrats in Congress blocked a bill to condemn mob violence
Elite media fails to show the comparison between Capitol 1983 bombing and last week's demonstrations


Back to Top