Because Donald Trump is the angel of death, people are dying in numbers that would have been inconceivable just a few short months ago.

We’re rapidly approaching 100,000 officially reported coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S., and Donald Trump thinks it’s time to reopen our churches, ostensibly so people can thank God for the steady leadership of Donald Trump, who’s handled this plague like a real pharaoh. (I’m actually wondering if I should start browsing online shopping sites for umbrellas hardy enough to handle a sudden downpour of frogs, because Trump’s heart — and brain — are still clearly hardened.)

Unfortunately, it turns out the actual number of dead might be considerably higher than the official number.

The Surgo Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that “integrate[s] ideas and approaches from multiple disciplines to examine stubborn problems in a new light,” recently did a deep dive into U.S. COVID-19 cases and concluded that the official picture is likely a lot rosier than reality:

At Surgo Foundation, we’ve analyzed county-level mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to paint a more granular picture, highlighting disparities in death reporting that were previously unavailable. Now, for the first time since the pandemic began, we’re able to study excess death counts at the county level in the United States.

And what we’ve learned is disconcerting. Our data suggest that we may be especially undercounting COVID-19 deaths in Southern parts of the US. In more than 200 of the counties we examined, excess death rates were between two times to 30 times higher than reported COVID-19 death rates.

This is particularly alarming considering the number of states — particularly red states — that are beginning to reopen their economies.

So what does this mean with respect to actual numbers? Prepare to be further alarmed:

Across the 366 counties we examined, there were on average 51 more deaths per 100,000 people than the average for the same period in 2014–2018. If this rate held against the entire US population of 328 million, this would amount to over 167,000 excess deaths this year to date.

In some cases, the Surgo Foundation reports, the discrepancies between reported COVID-19 deaths and unexplained excess deaths were particularly striking:

In some counties, this number is far higher. In Lee County, Mississippi, for example, the COVID-19 death rate is 31 per 100,000 people, but the excess death rate is 398 per 100,000 — about 13 times higher.

We also observed that a number of counties in the Southern US … have very low reported COVID-19 death rates, but high excess death rates, even if they’re not as extreme as they are in Lee County. This raises the possibility that deaths resulting directly from COVID-19 are being underreported.

Given the persistent lack of testing in some (dare I say “most”) areas of the country, it seems downright criminal to be reopening the economy right now, especially if the Surgo Foundation’s numbers are credible. As the foundation notes in its report, “Undercounted death tolls give policymakers a false sense of security about the safety of reopening the country, and put residents at risk.”

Ah, but Donald Trump’s reelection is at risk, and that’s all that really matters to him.

So how many more members of his flock will he send to the slaughter? Looks like we’re about to find out.

“This guy is a natural. Sometimes I laugh so hard I cry.” — Bette Midler on Aldous J. Pennyfarthing, via Twitter. Find out what made dear Bette break up. Dear Fcking Lunatic: 101 Obscenely Rude Letters to Donald Trump and its boffo sequels Dear Prsident A**clown: 101 More Rude Letters to Donald Trump and Dear F*cking Moron: 101 More Letters to Donald Trump by Aldous J. Pennyfarthing are now available for a song! Click those links, yo!