Early this month the US CDC launched their Covid19 “care home tracker” website, which claims to list all the care homes in the US which receive government aid, along with the numbers of Covid19 cases and deaths for each.
The trouble was, as an article for MedPage Today pointed out, at least some of the recorded numbers were “insanely inaccurate”. Here are some notable examples:
- The Saugus Rehab and Nursing Center in Saugus, Massachusetts was listed as having 794 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in residents and 281 cases in staff. The facility only has room for 80 patients, maximum. Of which 45 tested positive along with 19 staff.
- Southern Pointe Living Center in Colbert, Oklahoma is listed as having 339 residents die of COVID-19 despite only having a 95 bed capacity, and officially reporting not one single case of covid19, let alone a death.
- Dellridge Health and Rehabilitation Center in Paramus, New Jersey is listed as the worst affected carehome in the US, with 753 deaths. The reality, according to their marketing director, is they have a 90 patient capacity, and have had only 20 deaths.
These are the three listed examples in the article, but it would be foolish to assume they are the only three care homes – out of the roughly 15,000 listed on the site – whose numbers are inaccurate.
So, how was this allowed to happen?
The data for the site was allegedly collected and reported to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) by the care homes themselves, and since they receive hefty fines for refusing to do so, for being late or supplying false information, it’s hardly likely they would supply inaccurate data.
It’s especially unlikely they would forget their maximum patient capacity or seek to hurt their reputations and future business by overstating the number of deaths they had.
There is the possibility of simple data-entry errors – but these are enormous mistakes, not mistyped numbers, or extra zeroes, but exaggerations by orders of magnitude.
One home, Smith Village in Chicago, blamed a form which turned their total cases for May into “daily cases” for May, thus multiplying the total by 31. But that doesn’t reasonably account for all incorrect data. No form, however badly designed the mathematics, can turn “zero” into “three hundred and thirty-nine”.
Either there is a deliberate intent to deceive here, or incompetence so gross it baffles the mind. And, either way, it calls into question the reliability of ALL their claims, data and reports.
Since that report was published, the website has been updated and the cited examples now list the “corrected” numbers, but the whole situation raises several questions:
- If it was purely a matter of “making mistakes”, why were all of the reported numbers over-estimates?
- Would they ever have been corrected had it not appeared in the press?
- How many other care homes on the database have incorrect numbers listed, but don’t know it?
- Are these false numbers still cited in “official counts” for Covid cases/deaths?
- Can we trust ANY “official statistic” supplied by the CDC, CMS or other government body?