Donald Trump Jr. used real CDC data to draw an absolutely ridiculous conclusion

In the misinformation age, it's important to understand that not all misinformation is fake. Some of it fabricated out of thin air, but more often than not, it includes legitimate data that is either misread, misunderstood, or misrepresented.

Such is the case with Donald Trump Jr.'s ridiculous claim on Fox News that COVID-19 deaths are

"These people are truly morons," Trump Jr. said without a hint of irony, before explaining to Ingraham how we "went through the CDC data" and came to the conclusion that the COVID-19 death number "is almost nothing." He said, "We've gotten control of this thing, we understand how it works, they have the therapeutics to be able to death with this."

"Look at my Instagram," he added. "It's gone to almost nothing."

Anyone who pays any attention at all to daily death tolls from the virus knows that the idea that deaths are "almost nothing" is simply false on its face. We have regularly had between 500 and 1000 deaths per day for months, and those numbers have begun to climb again in recent weeks. In fact we had over 1000 deaths yesterday, the day he tried to make this claim. So what the hell is Jr. talking about?


We could just brush him off as an idiot and move along, but the problem is there are millions of people who will watch, listen, and believe him. He says his numbers are from the CDC, after all. So let's take a look at what he shared on his Instagram.

Looking at the first chart he shared of weekly death numbers, we see that deaths spiked, dropped, went back up in the summer, then have tapered off since—but with a huge drop in the past few weeks.

The second chart puts those weekly death numbers up against the weekly case counts. Judging by this chart, it appears that while cases have gone up (because of more testing, according to Jr., which is only very partially true) deaths have plummeted.

So what's going on here?

The data Jr. is using is the CDC's weekly provisional death count, not the current recorded death count. And that distinction makes his conclusion 100% wrong.

The CDC provisional death count only counts a death once death certificate paperwork is fully processed. That process can take anywhere from one to eight weeks, which is clearly explained on the CDC website that Jr. got the data from. So the most recent weeks in his chart aren't up-to-date at all.

There's even a big blue box at the top of the page that says, "Note: Provisional death counts are based on death certificate data received and coded by the National Center for Health Statistics as of October 30, 2020. Death counts are delayed and may differ from other published sources (see Technical Notes). Counts will be updated periodically."

In fact, if you look at the numbers posted today for the last two months compared to the numbers in his chart, they've all gone up, because more death certificates for those weeks have been processed. That's how this chart works. The data is incomplete, especially in recent weeks.

So yeah, Jr. is using real CDC data, but he's drawing completely the wrong conclusion from it.

Now, perhaps that's a result of not understanding it (which is a problem if you are going on national television as a mouthpiece for the White House during a pandemic). Perhaps it's a result of neglecting to read the whole web page and just pulling numbers from the chart (which is also a problem if you're trying to speak authoritatively while calling other people morons). Or perhaps it's an intentional misrepresentation (which is a problem for obvious reasons, not the least of which is that it could lead to more dead Americans).

While it's tempting to lean toward Don Jr.'s incompetence, there's one detail that makes me wonder if it was purposeful. Donald Trump Jr. shared this information on his Instagram, but not on Facebook (at least not that I could find). The reason that's suspect is that people can't click on links on Instagram. In fact, if they're using the mobile app, which is how the vast majority of people use Instagram, you can't even copy and paste the links, so it's very difficult to get to the website he cites. On Facebook, the CDC links in his share text would have shown up as clickable links, and maybe—just maybe—some of his readers would bother checking his accuracy for themselves.

People using the provisional death count erroneously isn't new. I wrote about it several months ago, when a claim kept going around that the CDC had lowered its death count. It hadn't. People were just confusing the provisional death count numbers with the real-time death count and running with their conspiracy theories.

So when Trump Jr. shares his charts and asks on Instagram, "Why isn't the ACTUAL data from the CDC being discussed?" he needs to know that it is. This data just isn't what he thinks it is.

And when he says, "I guess they can't rule you with fear if they tell you the truth," I just want to bang my head on my desk and then burn down the entire internet so that we don't have to be subjected to the Trump family's misinformation and absurd gaslighting any longer.

Happy voting, everyone.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."