Coronavirus Growth in Western Countries: April 21 Update

Here’s the coronavirus death toll through April 21. Naturally, you’re all eager to hear my Solomon-like wisdom on what to do about the Swedish numbers, aren’t you? Let’s review:

  • If I use the Johns Hopkins daily numbers for Sweden, they are enormously noisy thanks to Sweden’s lack of reporting on weekends. On the other hand, they’re consistent with the way every other country is reported.
  • If I use the numbers from the Public Health Agency of Sweden, they’re corrected to show the actual day the death occurred. However, these numbers are updated every day to reflect new data and it takes a few days before they settle down. This means that numbers from the most recent few days are always lower than reality.

What to do? Two things. First, instead of a 6-day rolling average, I’ve switched to a 7-day rolling average. This means every dot encompasses a full week, including both weekdays and weekends. This smooths things out a little bit. Second, I’ve added the official Swedish numbers as a gray line, but I don’t include the most recent five days.

How’s that for sawing the baby in half?

One other note: the United States is already up to 40,000 deaths and appears to have plateaued, rather than peaked. At this point, even if we start to decline soon, it will probably be a long, slow decline and the total number of deaths will reach very close to 100,000. That’s a big change from last week’s optimistic assessment of 50-60,000.

The raw data from Johns Hopkins is here. The COVID Tracking Project is here. The Public Health Agency of Sweden is here.

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Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

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About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

If you can, please support the reporting you get from Mother Jones—that exists to make a difference, not a profit—with a donation of any amount today. We need more donations than normal to come in from this specific blurb to help close our funding gap before it gets any bigger.

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