“If you look at swine flu …17,000 people died.”“We lose thousands and thousands of people a year to the flu. … You know, we average 37,000 people a year.”Day after day, news organizations track the death toll for the novel coronavirus, often relying on tallies maintained by universities or researchers. The figure for the United States crossed 1,000 deaths on March 25 — a sharp increase from the 100 or so reported just nine days earlier.Still, President Trump has taken comfort in often citing death tolls for the 2009 swine flu pandemic and the seasonal flu, appearing to suggest the death toll for covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is much smaller. But the numbers he cites are not comparable to the covid-19 statistics.The daily tracking number for covid-19 is substantially below the real figure of deaths that can be attributed to the coronavirus. It represents only the bare minimum — confirmed deaths reported by hospitals, medical providers and state health authorities as caused by covid-19. The actual number is substantially higher, but that will only become apparent after statistical modeling on excess mortality during this period.Here’s an explanation.The FactsThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that

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