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Mystery Solved?

A server wearing a facemask takes orders from a table of customers at Eight Row Flint in Houston, Texas, on May 22, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Mark Felix / AFP) (Photo by MARK FELIX/AFP /AFP... A server wearing a facemask takes orders from a table of customers at Eight Row Flint in Houston, Texas, on May 22, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Mark Felix / AFP) (Photo by MARK FELIX/AFP /AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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June 26, 2020 10:58 a.m.

One of the most persistent mysteries of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. is why cases have largely plateaued (until the last couple weeks) while mortality figures have fallen substantially. As we’ve discussed, there’s been an ongoing debate about disentangling the evolving case counts from the ongoing rise in the number of tests being conducted every day. But particularly as cases started to rise in June it is clear that cases are growing well in excess of what can be explained by more testing. So why have the daily mortality numbers dropped? Why the disjuncture between the two numbers, even taking into account a two- or three-week lag between spikes in new cases and people succumbing to the disease?

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