News & Politics

Here’s How Much Downstate New York Is Skewing the United States’ Coronavirus Numbers

The USNS Comfort docks in New York City, New York, March 30, 2020. (Townhall Media)

I live in New York State. But I live in Western New York—not New York City or downstate. If you ask anyone from downstate, they are New Yorkers. I am not. And quite honestly, I’m okay with that. I have no problem with not being lumped in with the downstaters.

Except I still am. New York is a hotspot when it comes to coronavirus cases and deaths, but that’s only because of downstate. Upstate New York’s coronavirus situation pales in comparison to downstate. New York City, in particular, was doomed due to the incompetence of local leaders, as well as other factors, such as population density and its subway system aiding in the spread of the virus.

Personally, I’ve thought for weeks we should be counting downstate New York separately from the rest of the country. So I looked at the numbers to see what happens when you separate downstate New York from the rest of the country.

Downstate New York is represented in blue.

The numbers are shocking. Downstate has been so heavily impacted by the coronavirus that it skews the United States when you compare us to the rest of the world.

Downstate New York technically includes New York City, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley, but I am only including Kings, Queens, New York, Suffolk, Bronx, Nassau, Westchester and Richmond Counties. These counties have a population of 12,205,796, according to World Population Review’s numbers for 2020—bigger than many countries.

After compiling data for the top 30 countries with the most cases of the coronavirus, I ranked the top ten countries by confirmed cases per capita (per million) based on the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University’s data as of 11:00 am ET on April 18, 2020.

  1. Spain (4,100.67)
  2. Belgium (3,208.30)
  3. Switzerland (3,166.40)
  4. Italy (2,851.95)
  5. Ireland (2,831.23)
  6. France (2,284.94)
  7. United States (2,135.43)
  8. Portugal (1,930.52)
  9. Netherlands (1,853.88)
  10. United Kingdom (1,698.42)

Right away we can see that the United States does not “lead the world” in coronavirus cases. Even with downstate New York in the mix, the United States isn’t nearly as bad as the mainstream media makes it out to be. But here’s what happens to the top ten once you treat downstate New York as its own country:

  1. Downstate New York (16,230.65)
  2. Spain (4,100.67)
  3. Belgium (3,208.30)
  4. Switzerland (3,166.40)
  5. Italy (2,851.95)
  6. Ireland (2,831.23)
  7. France (2,284.94)
  8. Portugal (1,930.52)
  9. Netherlands (1,853.88)
  10. United Kingdom (1,698.42)

Separating downstate New York from the rest of the United States shows us just how bad the situation there is. In fact, the rest of the country doesn’t even rank in the top ten anymore (it comes in at #13).

But, as I’ve mentioned before, confirmed cases are not the best way to compare countries because of the discrepancies in testing between them. So, let’s compare these countries by the fatality rate per capita (per million).

  1. Belgium (470.51)
  2. Spain (428.68)
  3. Italy (376.19)
  4. France (286.53)
  5. United Kingdom (228.28)
  6. Netherlands (210.86)
  7. Switzerland (155.29)
  8. United States (112.04)
  9. Ireland (107.34)
  10. Portugal (67.37)

Once again, even with downstate New York included, the coronavirus has impacted the United States much less than other hard-hit countries. But now, here’s what happens when we treat downstate New York as a separate country from the United States in terms of deaths per capita (per million).

  1. Downstate New York (848.45)
  2. Belgium (470.51)
  3. Spain (428.68)
  4. Italy (376.19)
  5. France (286.53)
  6. United Kingdom (228.28)
  7. Netherlands (210.86)
  8. Switzerland (155.29)
  9. Sweden (149.61)
  10. Ireland (107.34)

Once again, downstate New York leads the pack and the United States (without downstate New York) doesn’t even come in the top ten (it comes in at #11).

I should mention here that several countries are reportedly undercounting their cases and deaths, including Iran, China, and Russia. It’s very possible that the actual case and death numbers for these countries are much higher, possibly even putting them in the top ten, but without reliable data I can’t correct for this.

What we can see from the data is just how much downstate New York is skewing the data for the United States. What this tells us is that there shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to social distancing or reopening the country. I feel pretty safe where I live, but because I’m in New York State and Governor Cuomo is treating the whole state like it is downstate, I have to abide by the same statewide restrictions. Further, if the media ever chose to look at the country’s numbers the way I have, they’d see that the overwhelming majority of the country is doing much, much better than it appears to be when you include downstate New York in our numbers. The media wants you to believe that President Trump botched the federal government’s response to the coronavirus. This is clearly not true. Even with downstate’s tallies, we don’t lead the world in cases or deaths per capita. Treating downstate as its own country shows just how much local leadership impacts containment and mitigation.

Note: All the data used for this post can be accessed via Google Docs.

UPDATE: I wanted to add the following graph of the Cumulative Cases for Top 25 Metro Areas that was presented by Dr. Birx during Saturday’s Coronavirus Task Force Briefing that illustrates how the New York City metro area compares to other metro areas nationwide to visually demonstrate how severe and how unique the situation in downstate New York is.

(Graph via White House Coronavirus Task Force)

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Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis

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