The Sift Here’s what we’re Sifting today

Coronavirus numbers hit new highs

by Seth Johnson
Posted 6/29/20, 06:56 pm

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide surpassed 10 million over the weekend, accounting for more than 500,000 deaths and 5 million recoveries. The United States has nearly 2.6 million confirmed cases, with more than 126,000 deaths and 705,000 recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins University.

How are U.S. officials responding? New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said on Sunday that shopping malls in his state must stay closed unless they install high-quality air filters that can remove the coronavirus. He also recommended all businesses and offices look into new air filtration systems. On Monday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, shut down bars, movie theaters, gyms, and water parks for at least 30 days, while the governors of Oregon and Kansas issued orders requiring people to wear masks in public. In Florida, the cities of St. Augustine and Jacksonville announced similar requirements. President Donald Trump is scheduled to give a speech accepting the Republican Party’s 2020 presidential nomination in Jacksonville in August.

Dig deeper: Read Harvest Prude’s report in The Stew about Washington’s view of the virus.

Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this report since its initial posting.

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Seth Johnson

Seth is a correspondent for WORLD. He is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a journalism student at Bob Jones University. Seth resides in Indianapolis, Ind.

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  • bhall1500
    Posted: Tue, 06/30/2020 08:32 am

    Wow - such a misleading headline. COVID-19 deaths in the USA are at a 3-month low and worldwide deaths are near a low, and yet this article focuses on the totally misleading metric of positive tests. I love WORLD, but the coverage of COVID-19 has been very disappointing.

    Posted: Tue, 06/30/2020 09:21 pm

    Two salient facts: 1) World is a member of the Associated Press, so many of the articles are “sifted” from that worldwide organization. Even with a World reporter’s byline, the bulk of the article was probably written by someone else – who may not have a biblical worldview nor have any skill in dealing with statistics. 2) Because some reporters have little skill in statistics, data numbers are reported in the main stream media (and elsewhere) with no context – and are most likely cumulative totals. 

    In a local paper, a sports reporter (who is skilled in statistics) has dismissed the misleading cumulative totals. “The good news is that one can feel free to ignore empty-headed news coverage. State health departments nationwide have a wealth of reliable information.” 

    He goes on: “One wishes that Governor Tim Walz would pay a little more attention to the data his own health department has gathered.” 

    He explains: “As of Monday morning (June 22) Minnesota had conducted a total of 429,145 tests for COVID-19. Of those tests, a total of 30,882 tested positive. Of that number, 27,006 have recovered and 1,313 have died. That means that there are currently just 2,563 active cases in the entire state. Of those active cases, 357 were in the hospital on Monday with 185 being treated in intensive care units.” 

    His conclusion: “I don’t know about you, but that sounds wonderful to me.” He thinks we could have gotten similar numbers with common sense safety recommendations instead of repressive government mandates and forced business closures. “… with just over 9 million unemployed Minnesotans, I can’t think of a better time to take off the training wheels and take the Minnesota economy for a test spin.”

  • not silent
    Posted: Wed, 07/01/2020 01:14 pm

    I have two main questions for Hannah with some related comments: First of all, what exactly does it mean that "World is a member of the Associated Press"? The implication I got from your comment was that World writers are not writing their own articles or doing their own research but lifting news directly from the "Associated Press."  However, the World website does not mention the Associated Press in its "About Us" section but says, "World produces sound journalism, grounded in facts and biblical truth" and "...our trained journalists report on current events both global and national so that readers and listeners can see how God is at work in the world, no matter the headlines."  I'm in healthcare, so I'm not really up on how news services work.  Would you mind clarifying it a bit more for me? 

    (I also looked up Associated Press; and, according to, they were rated as "borderline left-center biased" due to editorializing, "Least biased" on the whole due to balanced story selecting, and "Very high" for factual reporting.)

    Second, are you claiming that a local sports writer has better (or more relevant) information about a global pandemic than the leading health experts in the US, the Associated Press, or the writers for World? 

    My comment: I am in healthcare; and, as part of my education, I took three college level statistics classes and learned about medical research.  A sports writer may be very skilled with sports statistics, but that does not make them an expert on MEDICAL statistics or how to apply them to health issues. 

    According to the CDC website, the death percentage from COVID has dropped, but it is still "above the epidemic threshhold." 

    As a resident of a state with a huge spike in COVID cases and a very large population that is especially vulnerable to the illness, I am happy that there are states that are in better shape than we are; however, since Americans are free to travel from state to state, a spike in one state could spread to others.  The reason the TOTAL number of cases is important is that the illness is very contagious; thus, even if most people who have tested positive for the virus are not feeling sick and/or not taking up hospital beds and/or not dying, they can still spread the virus to others who may be more vulnerable and who may ultimately NEED hospital beds and/or die.  


    Posted: Wed, 07/01/2020 06:37 pm

    Thanks, not silent, for your service in health care during these trying times – and thanks for the opportunity to answer questions and clarify my statements. 

    1. “… what exactly does it mean that ‘World is a member of the Associated Press’?” 

    In the 6/27/2020 issue of World magazine, both the print and the e-zine versions, on page 4 in the middle of the right column is the statement, “Member of the Associated Press.” The Associated Press website advertises its world-class journalism: “Access a wealth of content produced by our network of outstanding journalists worldwide, including news as it breaks and stories from our vast multimedia archive.” 

    In the past, the Sift section of World stated, “Here’s what we’re sifting from the news.” Therefore, a World journalist may have accessed the AP’s wealth of content produced by others, and then condensed that content to produce a brief Sift article with his or her byline. 

    2. “…  are you claiming that a local sports writer has better (or more relevant) information about a global pandemic than the leading health experts in the US, the Associated Press, or the writers for World?” 

    No. I quote the information that he gained from the Minnesota Department of Health, which is a leading health expert in our state.

  • not silent
    Posted: Wed, 07/01/2020 07:09 pm

    Thanks, Hannah, for your helpful response.  If I'm understanding correctly, your complaint is with what some have considered alarmist headlines from certain media outlets.  I think that's a fair complaint.  It looks to me like COVID has been used by various different political groups and assorted interests to push whatever agenda they want to push.  That's very unfortunate, considering how much it has impacted all our lives.

    As I said, I am happy there are states like yours which are doing better than mine; and I hope that things continue to improve for you.  Unfortunately, my state, Florida, is experiencing a sharp rise in cases; and we have more than one vulnerable population group.  We can probably both agree that it's wise to check with multiple sources and to follow instructions from the expert health officials in our states, counties, and cities.

    Posted: Wed, 07/01/2020 07:33 pm

    We're on the same track, not silent; well stated. I pray that the numbers in your neck of the woods start heading in the right direction soon. Best wishes for your health as well!