There is more to life than not dying from COVID-19. And, this just in, you can die from causes other than the coronavirus. As Americans, we need to remember this, or else risk an extended period of economic distress that will cost lives as well as economic hardship. The choice is not between people and profits. We can indeed both walk and chew gum at the same time. Let’s get started.
As things currently stand, a majority of Americans understandably want to ensure their health and safety are taken care of before they even think about reintegrating into society. After all, who could blame them for prioritizing the health and wellbeing of themselves and their loved ones. But much of the fear and reluctance to return to normal society as we knew it is based on the current information being widely disseminated to the public by the media.
Being a former journalist, I have a fair amount of respect for how difficult it can be to ascertain the real facts and present them in a responsible fashion. When it comes to the COVID-19 crisis, it is distressing to me that far too often it appears much of the media is more interested in advancing a particular narrative and something pretty close to a partisan agenda. It is my contention if the American public had a full set of facts and information in front of them that are current and accurate, the level of fear would be reduced. Our nation would be more prepared to move away from stay at home orders in a cautious and careful manner.
When this all began, we truly did not have enough information or real-time data to avoid a very strict set of restrictions. In one week from March 9 to March 16, we went from “be careful out there” to shelter in place/stay at home. It was a bold decision, but one that had to be made at that time.
But, we know a lot more now. It is the responsibility of the media to make sure the public knows it as well. We invoked the severe mitigation measures to flatten the curve. We were told this would not reduce the number of infections, or even the number of deaths. It would simply spread them out over time to avoid our healthcare system being overrun in general, and hospital beds not being available in particular.
What has happened? Even in New York, the epicenter of the pandemic, we never came close to reaching the doomsday predictions receiving wall-to-wall media coverage. In the rest of the country, hospitals are facing a cash crunch crisis due to an excess of hospital beds and restricting “elective” medical procedures. Remember when it was Gospel that President Trump’s inaction was responsible for a lack of ventilators that would cause thousands to needlessly die? Oops. We have an excess of them, and the “experts” say they do not work all that well in this situation. What about the Surgeon General and Dr. Anthony Fauci telling us early on that masks could be counterproductive? Now, we are told we should wear them when in public. More than that, we are told failure to do so makes one irresponsible and dangerous.
Here is something else we know. This is a big nation, and we all do not live in the New York City metropolitan area. Day after day, the numbers are striking. Anyone can check for themselves, simply by going to the Real Clear Politics (RCP) website. On Sunday, May 17, the total number of deaths in the United States stood at 89,661. New York alone was right at one third. The five states with the highest death totals (NY, NJ, Mass., PA., and Ill.) account for almost 60 percent of the cases. Adding in the next five states (Conn., CA, LA, MD, and Fla.) brings the total to almost three fourths of all U.S. deaths.
In other words, the remaining 40 states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, combined, total 23,371 deaths. Are all of these tragic and terrible both for the victims and those who loved them? Absolutely. However, people die every day, and we do not change our way of life, even when the cause is “preventable.” In 2019, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 2,813,503 died, 7708 a day.
What if the media did start reporting a more complete and current set of data and facts? What would that mean? Well, when the screaming is for more testing, the fact the U.S. has performed nearly 12 million tests as of May 17 might make an impression. Of the nine countries reporting the most deaths, the next closest is barely more than 3 million. That should be good news, but instead we are told that on a per capita basis, that is not all that impressive. However, the very day the United States had the most deaths, per capita was nowhere to be found in the reporting. Funny, on that basis, of those nine countries, the United States ranks second, behind only Germany.
We know that right at 90 percent of those included in the death count had some sort of an underlying condition. The Democratic governor of Colorado recently pushed back against this counting on the basis of including those who died from COVID-19 and those who died with it. One can only imagine what would be said if President Trump decided to do the same thing. We know that overwhelmingly those who have died are older than 65.
If more Americans were aware that the disease is centered in a handful of states, that those who die almost universally had an underlying condition, and were older, then maybe, just maybe, it would sway the opinion of Americans who, as of today, are still uncertain that the health and safety of their family is prioritized by decision makers.
Americans have historically stood up to challenges and met them square on. There is no reason, based on science or the data, that we ought not to begin to do the same thing in the fight against COVID-19.
Jessica Curtis is the executive director of GOPAC and a Republican strategist.