COVID Death Rates
COVID deaths and death rates were intentionally exaggerated from the start to maximize fear/impact in the public. Then the facts/data that would offer context and alleviate some of the public's fears (overreactions) with actual facts/data were suppressed by not only failing to consider them newsworthy, but by intentionally attacking the medical professionals who offered them and censoring people who were repeating them. We can speculate why, but the facts are that it did happen, and that should not happen in a free country or in places where people "care about the facts/science".
- The initial IFR (fatality rates) was estimated to be 3.5% due to poor testing methodologies and exaggerated claims. The actual numbers fall to numbers as low as 0.003% (for those under 20), and are 0.3% below 60, and only get near the initial approximations with a very small subset of the population (those over 70 with other chronic conditions / comorbitities).
- Incentives: you get what you incentivize, and the media, medical professionals/hospitals, politicos, schools, and individuals were all incentivized to exaggerate deaths and death rates (and maximize fear). Some directly, most indirectly. But we know it happened.
- The media/left sensationalized the extremely rare death/hospitalizations of young outliers, as a way to perpetuate fear and rationalize shutdowns (especially of schools), even in the face of studies showing that young people and K-12 were not significant transmission vectors.
- Efforts by medical professionals to correct disinformation were suppressed, censored, and those who offered the studies/facts or caution about the over-inflated exaggerations or context were often attacked or fired.
Death rates (or IFR / Infection Fatality Rate) is based on numerator/denominator -- how many people died divided how many people caught the disease.
We knew early on that up to 85% of people that had the disease were asymptomatic, and the majority of those that had symptoms weren't being caught as having COVID, and the majority that got symptoms weren't getting it severe enough to be hospitalized, and only a small fraction of those hospitalized were dying of it. Still, the media and professions ignored the large pools of asymptomatic people and just did their death projections based on known cases (usually hospitalized) divided by deaths. And then used those artificially high numbers to scare people on how many were dying.
The way it works is that you get what you incentivize, and Hospitals are incentivized to count as much as possible as a COVID Death. For Hospitals it gets them more money. For left-wing politicians, it gets them to exaggerate how bad this is, and why you need more shutdown and more government to fix it. (Creating a dependency class, aka the Democrat base). For the media, it's about scaring people or sensational headlines gets them clicks; "Worry" gets more clicks than "don't worry", so they sacrificed their integrity for their agenda and money.
How much was the incentive? $13,000 per COVID addmission, $39,000 for each COVID patient on a ventilator, and about the same for a death related to COVID.  It helps to remember that ≈80% of COVID patients that go on a ventilator will die, and the majority of the remainder will have permanent lung damage. In the meantime we've discovered that putting patients on CPAP+Oxygen and laying them on their stomach does more good and doesn't cause lung damage, but the Hospitals won't get $39K for doing that. So talk about moral hazard and rewarding something that hurts people. Those that reported these perverse incentives weren't treated as valued whistleblowers, but attacked or "Fact Checked" as frauds.
In Italy, they used the same system, and independent agencies did an audit and found that 88% of the COVID deaths, weren't really COVID deaths. If you got hit by a bus, but were suspected of having COVID, it was a COVID death. Which helps explains why in Germany the death rate to COVID is 0.3%, and in Italy it was 8%. Is there any reason to believe the U.S. Hospital Administrators aren't as creative / dishonest / motivated to cheat as the Italian ones? 
- NY just arbitrarily adds 3,700 Wuhan Virus deaths to the rolls, once they found out they get paid more for COVID deaths. They have no evidence that they were COVID related, but they died, so why not? 
- Man who OD’d after testing positive for Coronavirus, listed as Coronavirus Death.
- They loved to sensationalize outliers like the rarely healthy or childhood cases, even though they were extremely rare. Then they suppressed facts like only 6% of NY patients had no chronic conditions / 94% had at least one, and 88% had two or more. 
- Johns Hopkins published an article on a study that showed that Year-over-year death rates are flat or down, showing that other deaths (like Heart Disease) are being misreported as COVID, or those people were destined to die this year anyways. Under political pressure they deleted the article. Facebook and other places wrap any links to the actual study as False Information and lacking context for the high crime of offering context. The Fake Fact Check says that the CDC says 263K died to COVID, so they're just going to ignore the point that total deaths haven't changed or all the evidence that this is inflated. If Big Brother says 263K died due to war in Eurasia, then facts and people that contradict that, must be suppressed. 
- Santa Clara County (California) did an audit of their death toll, and found that they had over inflated COVID deaths by 22% (only 1,696 died from COVID, instead of 2,201 that died "with" COVID) 
- Alameda County (California) over-counted their death rate by 25% (about 400 people: 1,223 instead of the earlier reported 1,634 COVID-19 deaths. 
- Excess deaths by category dashboard 
Interesting how once Trump is out of office, suddenly it's OK to silently start telling the medical truth again -- as long as it's not widely publicized that Trump and supporters were right all along (and the numbers were being inflated for political reasons). And of course a suspected reason why they're doing it -- is if they start being the only ones that fix this now, they get to pretend that masks and lockdowns worked better than places that didn't do them as hard -- but only by making sure that they use different accounting for death rates. (After the fact).
There is no doubt that the numbers were inflated. The only debate was by how much.
There is a counter debate that it's possible that due to the lack of testing, there were lots of deaths that might have been COVID related (e.g. they were undercounted in other areas). While there's likely at least a few, that doesn't justify corrupting your data knowingly, and the evidence is that far more were over-counted than undercounted, so anyone that brings that up is trying to justify a bad action with disinformation. You don't falsify a report of murder to make up for some other missing person that might have been killed.
These numbers matter because the death rate, and number of deaths tells you how fast it is spreading and how many people have it: which tells you how you need to respond. In computers we say, GIGO: Garbage in = Garbage out. If you have bad inputs, you'll get bad outputs. So the politicians at the CDC or WHO or elsewhere that intentionally tainted the numbers, definitely tainted the reactions based on those false numbers. The problem is the authorities lied to us about all of the important variables: the deaths was inflated, the total number of cases was undercounted, and the death rate was too high -- which panicked them about overloading hospitals, and so on. These were not simple accidents, these were concerted efforts to misinform, and a high reluctance to correct the information when it was shown they were wrong. They destroyed lives and livelihoods. People who did that need to be fired and driven from ever being able to misinform the public again.