With more than 55,000 deaths attributed to it, COVID-19 would seem to remain a major U.S. health threat, justifying the closure of the U.S. economy. But if so, why is the overall U.S. death rate declining in the midst of a deadly pandemic?

It’s a curious thing. In recent weeks, despite a growing COVID-19 infection rate (due mostly to a jump in testing) and rising fatalities, the overall U.S. crude death rate (total deaths per 100,000 population from all causes) is falling.

That’s right, falling.

“Despite the panic over the Wuhan virus, it now appears that the overall U.S. death rate this winter season is at a multi-year low, no worse than 2014, 2016, and 2019, and far better than 2015, 2017, and 2018 (when we were hit with one of the worst flu seasons in years),” writes blogger Robert Zimmerman.

Let that sink in for a minute.