It didn’t take long before sharp-eyed readers spotted a mistake on Sunday’s front page of The New York Times: One of those listed as dying from the novel coronavirus was actually a homicide victim.
The sixth name on the list was that of Jordan Driver Haynes, 27, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who was found dead March 12 in a vehicle near U.S. Interstate 380, a victim of what the medical examiner ruled a homicide, according to a press release from the Cedar Rapids Police Department.
“The Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy and ruled the victim’s death a homicide,” said the Wednesday release. “Additional details regarding the homicide will not be released as there is an active, ongoing investigation.”
Mr. Haynes’ name was later omitted from the newspaper’s dramatic front-page list of nearly 1,000 names under the banner headline, “U.S. Deaths Near 100,000, An Incalculable Loss.”
“Correction: Earlier editions of Sunday’s front page included at least one name in error,” The Times said in a tweet. “Our original tweet containing an image of that front page has been deleted and replaced with an image of the late edition.”
The error fueled the back-and-forth over whether states are overcounting pandemic deaths by listing the novel coronavirus as the cause of death for all deceased persons infected with the disease, even those who died of other factors.
“Serious question: anyone wonder how far down the list one would have to go to find the first ‘gunshot wound’ or ‘alcohol poisoning’ death?” tweeted former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson. “I’m not going to bother, but unless these names were vetted very carefully (unlikely - the job would be huge), probably not too far.”
Replied Timothy Crimmins, who caught the error: “Umm.” Another commenter quipped, “About 6th one down it seems.”
Several Twitter accounts pointed out that the newspaper’s research team could have misread Mr. Haynes’s obituary on Legacy.com, which said he “died on Thursday, March 12, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, private family services will be held at Stewart Baxter Funeral & Memorial Services in Cedar Rapids.”
Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” scolded those who zinged The Times, tweeting, “Some critics are using this to attack the paper as a whole.”
The Times said that editors sought to mark the milestone of 100,000 deaths with a page design that chief creative officer Tom Bodkin called “hugely dramatic.”
The page was the subject of extensive media attention on Sunday — Business Insider called it “heartbreaking,” while Mother Jones found it “heart-wrenching” — although Mr. Berenson, a prominent coronavirus shutdown critic, was less reverent.
“Attention citizens!” he tweeted. “Your Dept. Of Pandemia issues a Special Journalism Prize (redeemable for six Pulitzers) to @nytimes for this stark yet beautiful reminder No One Ever Died Before. Added bonus: calculating a death toll while calling the loss ‘incalculable.’ Attention citizens!”
The number of U.S. coronavirus cases reached 1,622,114 on Sunday, with 97,049 total deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control tally.