The vast majority of Americans do not believe the officially reported number of persons who have died of coronavirus.
Just 25% of Americans do believe that the officially reported number of deaths from COVID-19 is accurate, according to one of the most reputable polling agencies in the country. However, the nation’s distrust is divided along political lines as Republicans tend to believe the official mortality count is overstated while Democrats generally feel it isn’t high enough. Opinions about the lethality of the virus itself are also split along party lines.
Interestingly, Gallup points out that both members of the left and right appear to be “quite knowledgable” about the virus in general. For example, “there is no difference in awareness about how the coronavirus spreads between Democrats (88%), Republicans (87%) and independents (87%), likely because this information has remained outside contentious political discourse,” Gallup observes.
However, “consensus on the basic facts crumbles when scientific knowledge is politicized,” Gallup notes. One such instance of politics invading America’s opinion on the virus can be seen in the debate on mask use. “Face mask usage [is] higher among those who trust scientists [and] journalists,” Gallup says.
Those who comply with mandates to wear masks in public are also “more likely to think it [the mask] offers personal protection from COVID-19,” a position that Minnesota State Senator and Medical Doctor Scott Jensen says is false.
“Presently studies reveal that COVID-19 particles require an electron microscope to be seen and are readily transmitted through cotton and surgical masks,” Jensen told Alpha News in an email. “Surgical and cotton masks can filter particle sizes of 5 microns or more. COVID-19 particles are 50 times smaller,” he says.
Jensen also explained last month how his state encourages doctors to add a coronavirus designation to death certificates, even for patients who never received a COVID-19 test. Minnesota doesn’t seem to be the only state that takes such a cavalier approach to death certificates. Over half of Vermont’s pre-coronavirus death certificates were recently found to contain major errors, per USA Today. Up to 30% of death certificates nationwide likely contain similar errors says Bob Anderson, the chief of mortality statistics at the National Center for Health Statistics.
While it appears that the mislabeling of death certificates is more likely to overestimate than underestimate the total number of coronavirus fatalities, some experts believe that the inverse is true. “We definitely think there are deaths that we have not accounted for,” Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security told the New York Times.
Other experts like Marc-Alain Widdowson, an epidemiologist who serves as the director for the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp in Belgium agree with Nuzzo. “You can’t rely on just the laboratory-confirmed cases,” he told the the Inquirer, suggesting that an untold number of people have perished from COVID-19 without being added to the official count.