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OPINION

The COVID Narrative Is Changing ... Why?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Over past week or so, the powers that be have begun changing the narrative on the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve come across probably a dozen articles in decidedly mainstream news sources that reflect an abrupt about-face on COVID.

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Throughout the fall and even up until Christmas, the mainstream media was pitching the usual panic porn about COVID: clamoring for third and even fourth “boosters”; defending the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates and the layoffs and firings of the unvaccinated; cheering for New York’s and other cities’ vaccine “passport” requirements; and – of course – echoing Biden’s apocalyptic prediction that the omicron variant was going to bring a “winter of severe illness and death” for the unvaccinated.

Then suddenly, everything started to change.

The first article I noticed was in SFGATE, an online San Francisco news source. On December 28th, writer Eric Ting published a story in which he noted that COVID-19 cases are “skyrocketing.” But that wasn’t the story’s hook. “Despite the case increase,” Ting wrote, “the city’s hospitalization numbers have remained mostly flat.” Ting quoted public health experts who said that infection rates and hospitalization rates are “definitely decoupling.” Epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford told Ting, “If this were like past waves, we’ve have seen a bigger [hospitalization] increase by now.” Rutherford’s assessment was echoed by Dr. Robert Wachter, who ascribes the phenomenon to omicron being a less severe strain of the virus. “If we were mirroring Delta’s severity,” Wachter said, “we’d see a big impact on hospital numbers by now.”

An NBC article on December 29th also pushed this new narrative, saying, “The Biden White House, to its credit, is attempting to shift public discourse surrounding COVID from a focus on the total number of cases …to a reporting of its resulting deaths and hospitalizations.”

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On January 2nd, Dr. Anthony Fauci was described in The Guardian as being among “a growing body of experts who say hospitalisation figures form a better guide to the severity of the Omicron coronavirus variant than the traditional case-count of new infections.”

This followed a December 31st New York Times article heralding studies from South Africa and the UK showing that omicron was less likely to result in hospitalization. 

Also on January 2nd, a Wall Street Journal editorial posited that omicron may end up saving lives by pushing us toward real “herd immunity.”

On January 3rd, Dr. Leana Wen (infamous for insisting that “life needs to be hard” for the unvaccinated) wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post titled, “Omicron is bad. But we don’t need to resort to lockdowns.

Since when? Why the sudden shift?

Some writers think it’s because omicron has been breaking out in vaccinated people. (This despite Joe Biden’s latest distortion that omicron is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”) Since it’s no longer possible to point the finger at the unvaccinated as (sole) disease vectors, it’s time to start softening the story.

I think the Biden administration, the powerbrokers and government functionaries propping him up behind the scenes now find themselves in a bind.

First, Biden ran on “shutting down the virus, not the country.” A year later, case numbers are exploding (this week, the U.S. hit a million new cases in one day) and he looks like a failure, even to his base. Now, it behooves him to explain that more cases don’t translate to more serious illness or death. 

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Second, Americans are fed up with government overreach and the never-ending “emergency” policies in response to the virus. Multiple federal courts have ruled that federal vaccine mandates are absurdly overbroad and unconstitutional. Increasing evidence shows that schools’ COVID policies (closures, social distancing, elimination of sports and activities, online classes and mask requirements) were probably never helpful and have done damage to children academically and emotionally. Businesses have been decimated. Prices and inflation have skyrocketed. 

Third, the silencing of all dissent – including medical experts like Drs. Peter McCullough and Robert Malone - under the guise of “misinformation” has backfired badly. McCullough's interview with podcast superstar Joe Rogan has had more than 40 million views. Malone’s will quite likely be even higher. Rogan’s podcast viewership now averages 11 million people, surpassing even media heavyweights like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity. People with common sense see the truth: that the latest strain of the virus is weaker, has fewer symptoms, and poses a far lower risk of serious illness or death. Americans are beginning to understand that they’ve been lied to for two years by the government and their propaganda peddlers in broadcast, print and social media. 

Most importantly, the Democratic Party is getting reamed on this and other issues, with the 2022 midterm elections on the horizon. At this writing, 25 Democrats in the House of Representatives have announced that they will not seek re-election to Congress. Democrats currently control the House by only nine seats, and public sentiment in the polls is running strongly in favor of Republicans. That means the possibility of losing control of the House – and perhaps the Senate as well – is stronger than ever. If Republicans retake control of Congress, the Left’s legislative agenda is dead in the water.

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All of which makes the backpedaling on creating constant COVID crisis mode a mixed bag. On the one hand, ever-larger numbers of Americans can see through the hysterical rhetoric and are demanding accountability from the party they view as largely responsible.

On the other hand, in 2020 the Left’s political powerbrokers were able to parlay their COVID panic pimping into voting procedure changes like mandatory mail-in ballots, ballot harvesting, ballot dropboxes and minimized poll-watching. Those procedures (and Mark Zuckerberg’s nearly half a billion Zuckerbucks) provided excellent cover for election manipulation – if not outright fraud. Without those procedures (and the public fear that fueled them), it’s almost certain Democrats are going to lose big in November.

Either way, a reckoning is coming.

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