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OPINION

Pandemic Porn And Cherry-Picking

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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(AP Photo/Paul Sancy)

Sure, we see lots of scary headlines, in what’s been dubbed “pandemic porn.” Not quite on par with “Headless Body Found in Topless Bar” but not for want of trying. And part is a desperate effort to get us to “do the right thing.” This often comprises cherry-picking – of states, of the media-dubbed “experts” who are so anointed for being alarmist (Witness Neal Ferguson’s rehabilitation after not only being fantastically wrong with his self-published model but then violating quarantine after testing positive in order to have sex with a married woman), and individuals who test positive for the virus and therefore suddenly also become “experts.”

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One method of picking is that while overall deaths are way down and cases about holding even (because of the aforementioned testing, which should be seen as a good thing, 1) some states have seen increases, and 2) sometimes those increases have occurred after lockdowns were lifted. But the Grey Lady makes it simple for you: “As states continue to relax lockdown rules, a dreaded “second wave” of infections appears to be rolling in.”

No, really. There’s the CNBC headline: “Record Spike In New Coronavirus Cases Reported In Six U.S. States As Reopening Accelerates.” Let’s see: 50 minus six equals 44. Thus 44 states had no such spikes. The article also says, “Across the United States, 17 states saw new cases rise last week, according to a Reuters analysis.” Which means 33 did not.

BUT WHAT ABOUT TEXAS?

Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the state will “pause” any further reopening of its economy for now, a day after he said that Texas is facing a “massive outbreak” of the coronavirus,” according to NPR. It added, “The state reported a record-high number of new cases on Thursday: 5,996. It's the third day in a row with a record number of new cases.” Hospitalization numbers have also soared. Florida and Arizona are mirroring this.

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Start with that last one. The Texas Department of State Health Services told a news outlet that the state is categorizing every inpatient in the state with a positive COVID-19 test as a coronavirus hospitalization, thus mirroring the CDC and WHO policies of counting as COVID-19 deaths those who just happened to be infected but possibly or probably died of other causes.

Moreover, Texas Medical Center data show that testing on some days has been triple what it was a few weeks earlier, hence they’re finding vastly more “cases.” Now, what of ICU cases? Disconcertingly we hear that ICU capacity is at about 100%. But as hospital administrators there have noted, they often run at 80-90%. When needed, they just add capacity. Indeed, while at this writing, ICU bed occupancy stands at 1,325 (full up), surge capacity is 2,207.

But wait, there’s more! While COVID-19 patients are using up some of that extra capacity, so are patients finally getting “non-essential” surgeries that were forbidden during the lockdown. So in part this is a natural and good consequence of reopening. “Non-essential” doesn’t mean nose bobs; it means anything perceived as non-emergency. Gov. Abbott is now restricting those surgeries again in some counties to reduce ICU need. But across America as states permit surgeries to go forward, the media are perversely spanking them for doing so. They are not going to accept responsibility for such things as delayed cancer diagnoses that lead to unnecessary deaths.  

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And one more thing missing from the scary articles: Texas COVID-19 deaths because they peaked over a month ago. Finally, Abbott has clearly stated he has no intention of relocking.

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