By Edward Achorn
Could we stop panicking a bit now? Would the dictatorial governors let up on the lockdowns that ruin businesses, destroy jobs, rob children of their education, terrify citizens, and destroy human interactions? Might the news media be shamed into sharing this reassuring news?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released data showing that deaths from COVID-19 have declined for the 12th straight week.
Is this the impression you get from watching the news?
In addition, the rate of deaths attributable to pneumonia, influenza, and COVID-19 (called PIC, in CDCspeak) has also fallen for 12 straight weeks. You can see that in the chart above this piece. Note the daunting spike this year (to the right) — followed by the steep decline.
Yet all we have been hearing in the media about is an explosion of cases, particularly in the South and West. The narrative is, essentially, that COVID-19 has returned with a vengeance.
But cases are not translating to a national spike in deaths. And it appears some of the numbers on new cases were flat-out wrong — notably in Florida and Texas.
Something else is feeding the panic. Death totals are being reported in a misleading way.
My go-to expert on these matters is Dr. Andrew Bostom, an associate professor of family medicine (research) at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and a trained clinician, epidemiologist, and clinical trialist.
Dr. Bostom notes that states and hospitals are going back for months and finding old deaths they now attribute to COVID-19. (The federal government has incentivized them financially to count as many deaths as possible as COVID-19-related.) But rather than assign the deaths to when they occurred, they are being added as they are reported — making it appear there is a new spike in deaths!
He looked at one news organization’s count of COVID-19 deaths in New Jersey over a five-day period. Dr. Bostom, digging into the data, found that 95 of the 128 deaths cited did not occur during those specific dates; they were “harvested” from deaths that had occurred from weeks to months earlier, and were only reported now. The real total number was a much less scary 33.
That is called cooking the books.
As I have noted, there are financial motives to promote fear (the most powerful human emotion). Panic drives all-important internet clicks. That means advertising revenue.
In addition, there are political motives. The mainstream media overtly champion the Democratic Party. An aura of chaos and fear makes voters nervous, especially when the president is someone who acts like a proverbial bull in a china shop. Thus, continued panic, closed schools, and lockdowns — rather than the calm that comes with returning to normal — could help remove the incumbent party controlling the White House and the Senate.
I think people ought to be informed about what is happening, good and bad, so that they may make informed decisions about their lives.
A panic narrative divorced from perspective and facts could do serious damage. We need an economy. We need children in school. We need to stop scaring people.
Please take away this comfort: For 12 straight weeks, according to the CDC, deaths from COVID-19 have been declining. That suggests this virus is burning itself out.
We should keep taking precautions, and particularly protect the most vulnerable, but people should not cower in fear.
(Read Edward Achorn’s books about American history.)