The Wall Street Journal has a grim – but not entirely unexpected – story about the COVID-19 death toll in Italy being far higher than is being reported.

According to Margherita stancati and Erit Sylvers’ article:

In the areas worst hit by the pandemic, Italy is undercounting thousands of deaths caused by the virus, a Wall Street Journal analysis shows, indicating that the pandemic’s human toll may end up being much greater, and infections far more widespread, than official data indicate.

Italy’s hidden death toll shows what could lie in store for the worst-hit areas of the U.S., Europe and many other countries in the weeks ahead

The real number of deaths is probably at least double the official count of 2,060 in March for Bergamo and 1,278 for Brescia since the outbreak began in late February, according to interviews with local officials, doctors and funeral-service providers and comparisons with the numbers of deaths from past years.

According to Italy’s government (as of today), there have been 110,574 cases of COVID-19 and 13,155 deaths so far – in a country with about 60 million people (the comparable United States numbers – i.e. for 327 million people – would be 602,628 cases and 71,695 dead).

Based on the Wall Street Journal’s analysis, the true number of fatalities would probably be at least 20,000 – and well over 100,000 in USA-population terms.And If Italy is understating the extent of COVID-19,  is it reasonable to believe other countries are doing the same?

That certainly would include China – which is producing numbers so absurd (in the country of origin for COVID-19, with a population of almost 1.4 billion people, it claims there were 35 new cases and 6 more dead yesterday) that it would be laughable if the reality weren’t so obviously grim.

Taking this information into account, it seems to me that, if we have any confidence in the reporting of COVID-19 sufferers/fatalities in the United States, as terrible as the news is (as of today, 215,344 reported cases, 5,112 fatalities), it could have been a lot worse.

That is very thin gruel to feel good about.  But it should be noted.

More on the progress of this scourge, as it becomes available.

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