Things kind of petered off

This unfortunately comes from a sad passage in an article about Covid-19 deaths, but it’s a malaphor nonetheless. Here’s the sentence: “And then things kind of petered off a little bit in those areas, and now we’re kind of seeing it getting closer and wondering when we’re gonna have to deal with this. But again, we’re preparing for it as best as we can in the hospitals that I’m working for.” This is a congruent conflation of “petered out” and “tapered off”, both meaning to diminish gradually and then stop.   Here’s the link to the article:

A special thanks to Barry Eigen for spotting this one, and for his wise counsel about not posting a descriptive picture of this malaphor.