Pain and suffering charts? Death boards? COVID stats tell only part of the story

·1 min read

At this point, more than 680,000 Americans have died as a result of this pandemic, and the enormity of that loss simply cannot be conveyed on something as innocuous as a dashboard.

Iowa’s COVID-19 dashboard lays out the current statistics - positive cases, hospitalizations, vaccinations and deaths - in large, easy-to-read numbers.

Alabama, home of the Crimson Tide, features a state map virtually covered in red, but in this case the color represents the counties with high levels of community transmission.

California offers bright, easy-to-follow graphs tracking the latest trends including cases and deaths, testing, hospitalizations, and a section on cases and deaths by ethnicity, gender, and age.

Our own South Carolina COVID-19 information features a collection of dashboards on everything from breakthrough cases and vaccinations to extended-care facilities and county-level data.

The statistics are there, but what’s lacking is the toll each figure represents, and it made me think of legendary comedian George Carlin and his well-known bit on soft language or euphemisms.

Would those who still deny the seriousness of COVID-19 or those who refuse to be vaccinated or wear masks be more inclined to do so if each state labeled the dashboards as death boards or pain and suffering charts?

Instead of hospitalization charts, should we label them “people who don’t want to die?”

It’s been about 21 months since the first coronarivirus case was confirmed in the United States and, despite wide availability of a free vaccine, only 55 percent of the country is fully vaccinated.

Look closely at those dashboard figures and recognize each case, each hospitalization, each death represents a real person, and do your best not to become one of them.

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