I happened on a link to an article about a Twitter fight. The Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times featured columnist Paul Krugman tweeted that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was responsible for 20 thousand excess Covid deaths. Krugman arrived at this figure using the state Covid death totals for California, New York, and Florida adjusted for population. Using this method, he determined that the Florida Governor was responsible for 20 thousand more people unnecessarily losing their lives in Florida because of his policies.
It is well known DeSantis reopened Florida, including its schools, rather than keeping the state locked down. According to Krugman, these reckless policies resulted in this horrible death toll. It painted the governor as an uncaring mass murderer. If true, this is quite damming for a potential presidential candidate.
Others, including economists and statisticians, immediately tweeted Krugman had made an unacceptable error. The kind that would result in a Statistics 101 student getting a failing grade. He failed to adjust for age. Anyone following my series on Covid (available here) knows 75% of Covid deaths occurred in those over 65. I always used age-adjusted figures as Florida has the second oldest state population. Failing to adjust for age gives a highly distorted picture.
Once you make the proper adjustment, the Florida death rate is comparable to California and much better than New York. Whether intended as a meanspirited false accusation or just an older person losing his grip, not refuting the allegation could harm the Florida governor.Continue reading