The biblical wisdom of Proverbs 16:13 provides guidance for those who strive to govern with integrity: “Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks what is right.” This timeless advice demonstrates the wisdom of God and ought to be heeded by government officials.
In this era of national uncertainty, state and federal governments need to exercise the highest level of integrity. Unfortunately, with uncertainty growing regarding the proper way to live in a world stricken by the coronavirus, the government-reported death tolls associated with the virus have been called into question. For example, questions about the death toll in Colorado have led some to estimate the number of deaths from COVID-19 to have been inflated by as much as 24 percent. This shocking figure was deduced based on an analysis of the death certificates belonging to COVID-19 patients; many of these death certificates do not list COVID-19 as being the cause of death.
This shocking revelation led Colorado Governor Jared Polis to openly express his frustration with the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, saying “what the people of Colorado want to know is not who died with COVID-19, but who died of COVID-19 [emphasis added].”
The citizens of Colorado are not the only people who are questioning death tolls associated with coronavirus. Nationally, more and more people are questioning the reporting methods at state levels. This scrutiny has been heightened in light of the federal guidelines for counting COVID-19 deaths, which advises medical professionals that “COVID-19 should be reported on the death certificate for all decedents where the disease caused or is assumed to have caused or contributed to death [sic]. ” This has led many American citizens to view reports on the mortality rate of the coronavirus with suspicion. Fueling these suspicions are anecdotal reports of deaths being misclassified. One particularly bad example of this was revealed when a coroner protested after a man who died of acute alcohol poisoning was counted as having died of coronavirus.
A Truthful Witness Saves Lives
Regardless of the virus’ true mortality rate, this sets a dangerous precedent because it will make more and more citizens unwilling to trust the guidance provided by those who are supposed to provide for our general welfare. If the virus is not as dangerous as they claim, then it will make people unwilling to listen to federal guidance issued in the future because they will think that it, too, is being blown out of proportion. If the virus is at least as dangerous as many say, then people will be unwilling to listen to federal guidance if they believe it is based on false numbers. This creates a no-win scenario. As Proverbs 14:25 poignantly says,
”a truthful witness saves lives but a false witness is deceitful.”
The leaders of America could learn something from the lessons of the Bible by being forthright with their methods of collecting and accounting for deaths associated with coronavirus. While some medical professionals maintain that the true number of deaths from coronavirus is being understated, there needs to be a far greater level of transparency surrounding how death tolls are being reported. The nation does not need to be given a reason to lose confidence in its leadership during these harrowing times. If death tolls are to be reported in the manner that federal guidelines suggest, that ought to be stated clearly so that the American public does not feel deceived.