If you are like me, you are tired of the politics and the distortions of many views being reported as fact. That is why I like numbers. When looked at honestly, and that is important, they help us cut through the one-sided political grandstanding. So the following will be an attempt to cut through the politics and taking an honest look at the numbers.


First, a very simple look at how numbers are reported. Let’s imagine there are two countries, A and Z. For simple math, suppose country A has 10 people and country Z has 100 people. Both countries are part of a worldwide pandemic.


Country A reports five infections and country Z reports 10 infections. Given all other things being equal (which is important, but not part of our early discussion), which country would you rather live in, A or Z? Country A has fewer infections, so maybe you say A. But country Z has fewer infections per capita, so maybe you say Z.


And this it the point. Depending on your political leanings and what you choose to read or believe, probably only one side of the statistics is being reported. Personally, I would rather live in country Z, where only 10 percent are infected, whereas country A where 50 percent are infected.


As we look at the current pandemic that grips the entire world, the numbers are important. And looking at the numbers honestly is even more important. So when I Iook at the numbers, I look at the website worldometers.info/coronavirus.


Why? Because they break down the numbers based on population, not just total numbers. So, for instance, when it is reported that the U.S. has done more coronavirus testing than any other country, is that correct? Yes, but only partially.


When looked at as a number of test per 1 million population, the U.S. is behind European countries like Spain, Italy and Germany. By the same token, when it is said the U.S. has more infections than any other country, is that correct? Yes, but again, as a percentage of the population as of Feb. 22, Spain and Italy have far more infections than the U.S. So how you look at the numbers is critical.


Many editorials have been critical of the federal government’s handling of the pandemic response and especially President Trump. I will be the first to agree his initial response was shallow and downplayed the potential seriousness of this virus.


At the same time, every first world leader had access to the same information. Was their response and have their results been any better? Again, an honest look at the numbers, I think gives a clearer answer. And when the the numbers are looked at honestly, I think it is fair to say no country was prepared for this global pandemic and overall no country has really fared any better. Yes, there are small differences now, but the story has not been fully written. We are still in the midst of it.


So as we continue to fight this pandemic, I hope we can be fair and realistic in our assessments and our expectations. I know this will probably fall on deaf ears from the far left and far right. But maybe, just maybe, those of us more in the middle will look more closely at what is being reported and think for ourselves.


— Tom Stout is a resident of Holland Township.