The seven-day average of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. has increased by 322% in two months, straining the ability of medical staff in some states to care for patients. Despite the rising numbers, an Instagram post questioned whether COVID-19 is “truly a pandemic that was ‘overwhelming hospitals,'” if hospitals are firing nurses who refuse to be vaccinated.
The delta variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads more quickly than the original virus and has been classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization. It is now the dominant variant in the U.S. But a meme has been circulating on Facebook falsely claiming the delta variant is “fake news.”
In a May 16 interview, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director said the agency knew of 223 breakthrough fatalities among fully vaccinated individuals, but “not all … died of COVID.” That is not an admission that “many, many hospitals” previously “overcounted” COVID-19 deaths, as conservative websites have reported.
COVID-19 was the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020. But a meme featuring Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis minimizes the toll the pandemic already has taken — particularly among the elderly. The meme also questions getting inoculated, despite the safety record of the vaccines and DeSantis’ public support for vaccines.
Viral social media posts cite a flawed paper in falsely claiming the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed death certificate procedures and violated federal law, resulting in wildly inflated COVID-19 deaths. The CDC hasn’t altered how death certificates for COVID-19 are filled out, and there is no federal law governing the process.
It’s difficult to know exactly how deadly COVID-19 is, but as the World Health Organization has written, studies estimate that the infection fatality ratio, or percentage of deaths out of all infections, is between 0.5% and 1%. The true rate isn’t clear, since the pandemic is ongoing and not all infections have been diagnosed.
The case fatality rate, or percentage of deaths out of confirmed cases, was 1.8% in the United States as of July 9.