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Filler: Putting COVID-19 deaths in context

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Last week, the United States passed a grim milestone when COVID-19 had officially killed one in every 500 Americans — a toll now just about to pass 680,000.

But landmark numbers don’t mean much without context.

You can say, "I played 18 today and got three holes-in-one," but if we don’t know you were playing miniature golf, holes-in-one are common and you cheat, we'll badly misunderstand the importance of the feat.

With COVID, the scads of numbers skew and inform perceptions. The most visceral might be that one in every 35 Americans age 85 or older is dead of COVID, and one out of 150 age 65 to 84. That’s a shocking loss of memory and love, a heartbreaking theft of parents and grandparents.

Then there are the COVID statistics teaching us about more than the pandemic.

One in every 240 Native Americans has died of COVID, compared with one in 390........

© Newsday

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