Returning from vacation, I saw the new graph San Clemente Times now includes in the Top 5 section to update readers on COVID-19 infections in San Clemente. 

If you wish to educate and not simply instill fear, as only showing case counts does nothing but to potentially instill fear without any context, I have some recommendations. 

Any epidemiologist will tell you that case counts alone are irrelevant to understanding the course of a disease. If you wish to educate, then you must also include the number of tests performed (more testing will increase the numbers—and remember false positives), the number of new hospitalizations and the number of new ICU entries, as well as the number of recovered, as well as if the death count is increasing or decreasing overall. 

Only with all these numbers can we begin to understand our current situation instead of instilling unnecessary fear. 

Just because the mainstream media has taken this poor practice, which goes against the tenets of science and epidemiology, San Clemente Times does not have to follow suit. If your wish is to inform and educate readers, then please provide all the necessary information.

Editor’s Notes: The San Clemente Times regularly posts COVID-19-related data from the Orange County Health Care Agency in its daily email blasts, as well as through a weekly social media infographic. The data outlined in the graphics include confirmed cases, deaths, total tests, current hospital cases and estimated recoveries.

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