The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Compared to What?

In yesterday's post, I touched on the gross irresponsibility of the media as they induce panic across the country. Their reporting is 'fake news' because they conveniently ignore context that would ease the minds of many. As of this morning, 0.00019 percent of the U.S. population has tested positive for COVID-19. Of that group, at least 80 percent will require no treatment, outside staying at home in self-imposed quarantine, yielding 0.0000183 percent of the U.S., population that is currently at risk of serious health consequences or, in the extreme, death. I'm well aware of the characteristics of geometric progression and the manner in which COVID-19 case could increase rapidly. But despite the media propaganda, social distancing efforts at the personal, local, state, and federal level will result in smaller geometric coefficients and exponents with resultant flattening of the growth curve. You'd think that this information would be presented EVERY time the number of cases and the number of deaths is reported. You'd be wrong.

In a worthwhile article (read the whole thing), Heather McDonald presents the context that the media refuses to discuss. She writes:
Compared to what? That should be the question that every fear-mongering news story on the coronavirus has to start with. So far, the United States has seen forty-one deaths from the infection. Twenty-two of those deaths occurred in one poorly run nursing home outside of Seattle, the Life Care Center. Another nine deaths occurred in the rest of Washington state, leaving ten deaths (four in California, two in Florida, and one in each of Georgia, Kansas, New Jersey, and South Dakota) spread throughout the rest of the approximately 329 million residents of the United States. This represents roughly .000012 percent of the U.S. population.

Much has been made of the “exponential” rate of infection in European and Asian countries—as if the spread of all transmittable diseases did not develop along geometric, as opposed to arithmetic, growth patterns. What actually matters is whether or not the growing “pandemic” overwhelms our ability to ensure the well-being of U.S. residents with efficiency and precision. But fear of the disease, and not the disease itself, has already spoiled that for us. Even if my odds of dying from coronavirus should suddenly jump ten-thousand-fold, from the current rate of .000012 percent across the U.S. population all the way up to .12 percent, I’d happily take those odds over the destruction being wrought on the U.S. and global economy from this unbridled panic.

By comparison, there were 38,800 traffic fatalities in the United States in 2019, the National Safety Council estimates. That represents an average of over one hundred traffic deaths every day; if the press catalogued these in as much painstaking detail as they have deaths from coronavirus, highways nationwide would be as empty as New York subways are now. Even assuming that coronavirus deaths in the United States increase by a factor of one thousand over the year, the resulting deaths would only outnumber annual traffic deaths by 2,200. Shutting down highways would have a much more positive effect on the U.S. mortality rate than shutting down the U.S. economy to try to prevent the spread of the virus.
No one is suggesting that the media be muzzled or that bad news should disappear, but many of us are suggesting that 'fake news' on COVID-19 (that is, news that lacks context) is dangerous and irresponsible. As bad (and maybe worse), are politicians who lack the courage to say, Everyone needs to take a breath and calm down. You're not going to die, and if you do contract COVID-19, it's very likely to be nothing more than a bad cold.

We need a few profiles in courage—Democrats and Republicans who stand up and calm fears, not exacerbate them.


It appears that anyone who suggests that the media should provide context instead of fear mongering is now guilty of "denialism," a phrase used by the left-leaning Minneapolis Star Tribune to condemn any comparison of COVID-19 with the common flu (they conveniently avoid discussing why it shouldn't be compared to the more serious H1N1 virus of 2009). It appears that the progressive editors of Star Tribune have decided to adopt a standard tactic of the Left. Rather than debating a topic based on facts and their interpretation, name calling ("denialism") is the operative strategy. NO ONE denies that COVID-19 is a threat. The real question is how to best handle the threat and how to manage public reaction to it.

As a subtext, there's also the question of how this health crisis has been politicized by members of the administration's opposition and their trained hamsters in the media to such an extent that it's laughably obvious. Creating an atmosphere of hysteria that needlessly puts the economy in jeopardy (remember that the very people who will be hurt by this are the same people who the Left tells us they care so, so much about) is worthy of discussion and criticism based on the facts—not name-calling.


Some are beginning to sound the alarm that an "hysteria virus" has been unleashed by an irresponsble media and by despicable politicians who view the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to win in November. If left unchecked, the hysteria virus could ruin more lives and create more upheaval that the biological threat that has been used as an excuse to unleash it. Douglas MacKinnon comments:
The purveyors of greed, hate, and partisanship have worsened the most turbulent, most threatening storm of our lives. Knowing that, the “adults in the room” from the media and political classes need to step up immediately to calm those troubled waters by speaking as one and emphasizing not just the frightening but also the positive and the hopeful aspects of this crisis.

Beyond that desperately needed fix from the media and our politicians, each of us can and must play our own roles by acting responsibly and altruistically within our own communities.

The opportunists using the coronavirus to feed their greed and hate must not be allowed to tip the world toward oblivion. There is still time to stop them.