On August 20 2020, a Facebook user shared the following post, which purportedly shows the number of deaths due to COVID-19 in Canada, Italy, Germany, and the United States during a single day (“yesterday”):
White text against a purple background read:
Yesterday 4 Canadians died of COVID, 7 Italians, 9 Germans and 1263 Americans
COVID-19, Americans, and the Rest of the World
That text-based status update (the sort unlikely to include corroborating information) was resembled other national comparisons, which have been floating around on social media since at least April 2020.
On April 24 2020, we examined a claim about the population of the United States relative to the world and the proportion of COVID-19 deaths at the time:
Another viral claim purportedly illustrated disparities in infection and death rates in the United States versus the rest of the world, but that one used inaccurate graphs to compare the U.S. with France, Spain, and Italy:
On July 9 2020, another claim (in response to debate over whether the United States was ready to open schools) purportedly compared the United States to Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden (once again using slightly inaccurate statistics):
And on August 7 2020, a specific comparison between the U.S. and New Zealand was popular because of somewhat misleading reporting over the lifting of travel restrictions:
The United States, Canada, Italy, and Spain on August 19 2020
Posts like the one above are often a snapshot in time, circulating on Facebook with a reference to “yesterday” well past the original date the content appeared.
Since the post was published on August 20 2020, the “yesterday” named here was August 19 2020. No source was listed, but it was fairly likely the user referenced the site Worldometers.info, which we described in a previous fact check:
… the veracity of Worldometers.info’s statistics was unclear, and its number of new cases listed for United States on July 7 2020 undercounted them by about 5,000[.]
Moreover, Worldometers.info didn’t appear to provide numbers dating more than two days back, making it difficult to verify the source of the information.
However, Google’s COVID-19 Dashboard enabled the retrieval of statistics both by date and by country, making it simple to obtain a number of daily deaths to compare with the post. Those numbers were as follows for August 19 2020:
- United States: 1,369;
- Canada: 5;
- Italy: 7;
- Germany: 7;
- Worldwide: 4,632.
According to the Facebook post, four Canadians, seven Italians, nine Germans, and 1,263 Americans died of COVID-19 on August 19 2020. Statistics were typically kept by country (not nationality per se), and those numbers were slightly off. Per Google’s COVID-19 dashboard, five people died in Canada, seven in Italy, seven in Germany, and 1,369 people in the United States died of COVID-19 on that date. Although the figure for Italy was correct, the other three were inaccurate, especially the death count for the United States; the figure the meme provided under-counted deaths by more than a hundred.