David Trinko: Why the newspaper keeps reporting numbers


The old saying goes that numbers never lie.

According to many comments on the internet over the past two years, they lied to you almost daily.

If you are a regular reader of The Lima News, you may notice that we no longer print daily coronavirus counts from the Ohio Department of Health. We have moved to printing them once a week, with the first weekly on Saturdays. The next one will appear on Friday (more on that later).

First, I’d like to focus on why we started using these numbers in the first place. When COVID-19 first hit, most of the country was somewhere between confused and terrified of the new disease. We didn’t understand it enough to know more.

Our country, state and community leaders have told us that we should be afraid of it. As a news agency, it is our responsibility to share with you all the facts and figures we have, even when no one is quite sure what to think.

We shared numbers every day, on the number of new cases, new deaths and new ones labeled as recovered compared to the numbers we saw the day before. This helped give an idea of ​​how the virus spread through our counties in the region.

In this particular story, however, those were just numbers. Yet daily, internet commentators accused us of either overstating the risk or underestimating it, on a story that only showed a number.

People never believe me when I say that, but I really don’t want to change your mind. I just want to give you facts that can help you make up your mind with the right data at your disposal. Of course, I have personal opinions on everything, but I try desperately to keep them to myself in my daily work. I don’t want them to influence the work we do at the newspaper.

Since we started sharing these numbers, it’s obvious that a lot has changed. We now know that the survival rate of the virus is extremely high. We know the death rate is very low. We know the virus has mutated, mostly to milder forms of itself.

Above all, we now know that the number of new cases and the number of deaths have dropped considerably. We know we don’t have to be as scared as before. That’s why we made the decision to forgo what we were printing in the limited space of our physical newspaper, updating readers once a week.

We intended to keep updating the stats on a daily basis, as there were still around 750 people a day looking at this series of numbers. Then on Thursday, the state announced that it would release updated numbers only once a week. This of course changed our plans, as we cannot share a daily update that does not exist.

This puts us where we are now. We will update these numbers once a week on Fridays, since the Ohio Department of Health will update their numbers on Thursday afternoons. We’ll share the new numbers as quickly as possible and show you how they’ve changed from the previous week.

Again, we’re perfectly happy to let you read these numbers and form your own opinion. Maybe you’ll decide they don’t make sense. Maybe you will make decisions based on them. Whatever the outcome, it’s our job to share them with you, and we’ll continue to do our job.

David Trinko is editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0467, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.


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