A Coronavirus Reality Check
Starting the week off on the wrong foot, after the first reported U.S. coronavirus deaths, The Washington Times’s editorial page editor, Ethan Epstein, published a breathless hyperbolic warning about the COVID-19 flu variant — a case study of Beltway media groupthink that promotes pandemic panic.
According to Epstein, “Americans have done so much screaming at each other to avoid panic over the novel coronavirus that they’ve arguably grown complacent.” He then goes on to affirm the actions being taken in other countries: “China … has locked down tens of millions of people and virtually shut down its economy, the world’s second-largest. Japan has closed schools for a month.
In France, which has so far seen fairly minimal numbers, the Louvre was closed. Switzerland, also fairly minimally affected, won’t allow gatherings that draw more than 1,000 people. … Two decades after 9/11, many Americans once again seem to think ‘it can’t happen here.’ But as we’ve learned more than once, it can.”
So, let’s shut the country down?
Will COVID-19 be the next catastrophic attack on America, “The BIG One”? As I have noted previously, it might result in another bad year for U.S. influenza deaths, but nobody can actually project that right now. What is certain, however, is that the “pandemic fear and panic” are great political fodder for Democrats hoping to crash the U.S. economy … and thus President Donald Trump’s reelection.
As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and their Leftmedia publicists continue to foment fear, it is having the desired dire consequences for the economy. By undermining consumer and business confidence, and thus the equities markets, Democrats are playing fast and loose with the job stability of all working Americans and their families. Pelosi said, “The market drop is disturbing,” but I can assure you that she and her Democrat ilk are high-fiving each other in private, knowing that what is bad for American workers is bad for Trump’s reelection prospects.
The immediate effect of the disgraceful Pelosi/Schumer fear and panic tag team is that the net worth and retirement plans of all middle-income families is taking a big hit, and so is breadwinner job stability.
To put the current viral flu threat into perspective, according to the latest 2020 CDC influenza report, in the U.S. the flu season we are now in has already resulted in 29 MILLION diagnosed cases, 280 THOUSAND hospitalizations, and more than 16 THOUSAND deaths. And this is a good year — in one year this past decade there were 63 THOUSAND flu deaths in the U.S.
So, why haven’t Pelosi, Schumer, and Democrats across the country called press conferences to draw attention to each of the other 29 million cases and 16 thousand deaths — and the MSM dutifully reported each one? Because those deaths have no value as 2020 political fodder.
Democrats are proficient at never letting “a good crisis … go to waste,” as they demonstrated back in 2014 with the Ebola pandemic threat. At that time I wrote, “Democrats thrive on manufactured crises, and the current endless loop of hyperbolic rhetoric about the ‘Ebola pandemic’ from all corners of the 24-hour news recyclers” was a good example. Of course, Barack Obama was president then, so blaming him was not part of their politicization of the epidemic.
But that was then. It’s a presidential election year and with nothing else to defeat Donald Trump, betting on a flu pandemic and blaming Trump for it seems like an easy sell.
Over the weekend, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney suggested that the best thing Americans can do to avoid the panic is turn off their televisions and tune out the Democrat and Leftmedia fearmongering. But that would undermine the Demo strategy. Thus Schumer declared, “For Mulvaney to suggest that Americans turn off their TVs and bury their heads in the sand when they’re worried about a global health pandemic is Orwellian, counterproductive, dangerous…”
And then there were the Demo campaign-trail claims that Trump had cut the pandemic budget. Mike Bloomberg claimed, “[Trump] has defunded Centers for Disease Control.” Biden claimed, “[Trump] has cut the funding for the entire effort.”
Those claims are patently false. According to an Associated Press fact check, Congress has actually increased funding: “The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aren’t suffering from budget cuts that never took effect.”
Regarding Schumer’s claim that Trump has no plan, the AP notes, “The public health system has a playbook to follow for pandemic preparation — regardless of who’s president… Those plans were put into place in anticipation of another flu pandemic, and are designed to work for any respiratory-borne disease.”
Adding to that nonsense was the erroneous claim that Trump had written off the coronavirus flu threat as a “hoax.” According to NBC: “Trump calls Coronavirus Democrats’ ‘new hoax.'” Politico repeated that lie: “Trump rallies his base to treat Coronavirus as a ‘hoax.'” In fact, what Trump called a “hoax” is that the Democrats have shamefully and grossly politicized the threat.
And predictably, the most ardent of the Democrats’ Leftmedia propagandists are the talkingheads at CNN.
Fox Business Network host Trish Regan called that what it is: “Diagnosis: Positive. CNN is infected with Trump Derangement Syndrome. I’m calling out CNN for irresponsibly politicizing something that should be a unifying battle against a virus that doesn’t choose sides. Anti-Trump network CNN doing whatever it can to stoke a national coronavirus panic.”
Of course, panic also keeps people tuned in — which is to say, it sells advertising!
As I have previously noted, to be adequately informed and prepared for what may be a bad flu year, the most current information is on the CDC’s page, “What You Should Know,” which provides updates, preventive measures, travel advice, etc. You can review the CDC’s national pandemic-response plan and basic citizen flu-prevention measures.
And if you are interested in country-by-country data on the COVID-19 flu virus, that is being tracked at the Johns Hopkins coronavirus interface.