Media is damaging our nation with pandemic mania

Editor & Publisher

We should be fearful of the news coverage these days. It is not just liberal or conservative media — it is an entire nation stoking each other with fearful flames of the Covid pandemic crisis. It has turned so inane and so desperate that basic facts and good news are no longer allowed. It is safe to say there are more unbiased police officers than journalists working in the United States — by far.

All is distortion. Let me explain.

The only true and meaningful statistic in the Covid crisis and how we are managing it is the daily death count. That is the only number that is the constant to measure everything else by.

The facts are quite simple and positive. In the last week of April, prior to most of the nation opening up businesses, beaches and restaurants, there were 13,912 deaths due to Covid in the United States. And then, as we increased our social exposure, the death counts have dropped.

Notice the following death counts week by week in the United States:

April 24 thru April 30 — 13,912 deaths

May 1 thru May 7 — 13,323 deaths

May 8 thru May 14 — 10,543 deaths

May 15 thru May 21 — 9,198 deaths

May 22 thru May 28 — 7,073 deaths

May 29 thru June 4 — 6,935 deaths

June 5 thru June 11 — 5,697 deaths

June 12 thru June 18 — 4,707 deaths

June 19 thru June 25 — 4,264 deaths


Every week has been lower and lower.

Has this been noticed?

Weekly deaths are less than 1/3 what they were two months ago.

Personally, I thought we would see a leveling effect or even a slight rise in deaths over the two months when we opened our country to business and increased contact.  And a slight increase would have been a normal spike due to people leaving their homes and going back to work. But in fact, each and every week has seen a decrease in deaths.

Despite all of this, hystrianic words such as Surges and Spikes fill the television and news feeds.

We are all being pushed and prodded by what any college statistics 101 class would tell you are spurious correlations, inflating the units of analysis and hacking at numbers.

The media is screaming over massive increases in Covid counts and cases and infections. But the fact remains that free testing on a large scale is the driver of those numbers. It is not factual to say that the Covid is more present or lurking or increasing in its menacing ways.


So what to do?

We should keep looking at the death counts. If they continue to drop, then we are on a most positive path. The fact that so many people are tested and test positive and yet the death counts are decreasing is wonderful news.

And we certainly should not allow the politicization of panic.

We should not close our country to business, nor stop people from recreating and going to the beach. We should stay on the course we are on: sensible and cautious reopening.


A case for masks…

As for masks, one fact has been true through this entire pandemic: the elderly and those in a weakened condition are extremely vulnerable to the virus.

The elderly should avoid shopping and social situations and stay distanced from the ebb and flow of daily public life. The elderly and infirm should be helped at every level and protected from exposure.

To that end, places such as Publix and supermarkets should provide and ask all customers to wear disposable masks upon entering and they should be disposed of upon exit.

A mask costs less than 50 cents when bought in bulk. As the CEO of Costco said, it is a small inconvenience if it increases the safety for those who are vulnerable and have to shop.

But other than helping protect the vulnerable, we should all embrace the fact that death counts are down and we are a vibrant and productive nation again. Do not let the worshippers of fear tell you otherwise.

Do not let the convoluted blend of news and entertainment wear you down. Government and the media increase their importance by making the world a dangerous place. Then their relevance proportionally increases.

Pushing fear is a dangerous algorithm in society. Nothing has led to more social breakdowns in history than a frightened mob.

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Longboat Key News

14 Responses for “Media is damaging our nation with pandemic mania”

  1. Sean Turner says:

    The 7-day average death rate in Florida on the 27th of June was 35 (death per day). August 1st the number stands at 178. When your logic still holds then we apparently have a massive problem in Florida.

  2. ghostrider says:

    From a month ago…

    “Temperature checks detect only fevers, not infections.
    If a test checks only for body temperature, it is likely to miss many people infected with COVID-19. A study of 5,700 patients at a New York City hospital found that only 30.7 percent of those who tested positive showed symptoms of a fever when they first arrived. Since it can take between one and fourteen days to begin showing symptoms, patients who don’t have fevers when they are tested may develop them later.
    Temperature scanners can also produce false positives and false negatives, and fever-suppressing drugs could mask symptoms in travellers.
    In a paper that appeared in Eurosurveillance this February, researchers predicted that temperature screening would miss 46 percent of positive cases. Between February 2 and 23, the US government screened around 46,000 air travellers who had been in China and detected only one positive case. In March, eight passengers who passed through temperature screening at the Shanghai airport all later tested positive for COVID-19.
    Temperature screenings haven’t been helpful for detecting diseases that came before COVID-19 either. A paper in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that exit-screening measures for Ebola and SARS—which included temperature screenings and a health questionnaire—didn’t catch any positive cases in the countries the researchers studied. In 2003, Canadian airport authorities scanned more than 750,000 people for SARS but detected no positive cases at all.
    [Postscript: The SARS virus outbreak in 2003 infected 375 people in Toronto, killing 44.]”

  3. Andrzej says:

    I like your comment about masks in Publix and other places frequented by public. Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc. should consider similar.
    More important, places like that should have a temperature check of incoming patrons and keep potential “Virus Spreaders” out of the store. This may actually be more effective than wearing a mask.
    Casino in Tampa has implemented a temperature check for all visitors. Gamble with money, but do not gamble with health. Good.
    I agree with you showing the declining numbers. I would have liked to see you add a reference and perspective numbers for USA.
    Like on the lower scale about 1,000 people a week commit suicide.
    12,450 die from heart diseases, cancer 11,500 per week and there are many other causes of death per week, much higher than Covid.
    Media should be also concerned about other health issues and prevention.
    But, for media it is hard to make a political game out of cancer or obesity.?
    Yes, diabetes is also on the list of weekly deaths,

  4. E Kennedy says:

    Let’s just sit back and count the lives lost. Sounds a little cold to me.

    As the greatest country in the world, we should be able to do better.

  5. Paul Kersey says:

    Who is this “Joe From Longboat” guy? And how do I vote for him in November?!

  6. Marilyn perez says:

    Clearly you have not known anyone hospitalized with this virus. Their stays can last months, and their at home recovery can take even longer. As it is a novel virus, there is no understanding of what the long term health consequences may be for these people. Also, hospitalizations is a clearer indication of whether hospitals can handle the Covid patients, in addition to being available for non Covid patients. Your premise that lower deaths is an indication of “how we are doing”,is clearly faulty.

  7. C Thomsen says:

    It is really OK with you that an extra 5000 to 10,000 people die every month? Is everyone comfortable with “locking up” all their fellow citizens over 60 in their houses? I have no doubt that the economy of Sarasota will continue to suffer due to the lack of spending of the over 60 crowd. Our house improvement plans have been tabled for who knows how long. And forget about eating out in restaurants. Certainly not until the whole community of Sarasota shows respect for Covid 19. Can the under 60 group make up for the lost income? Not likely! For an area that yearly deals with hurricanes I find it so strange that everyone doesn’t understand mother nature always wins. The virus is winning!!

    The US has always considered itself bigger, more successful and better in every way than the rest of the world. A shining star to be envied. Personally I do not think being OK with the preventable death of many is a sign of a enlightened compassionate civilized society. Certainly not something to be proud of. Presentably we are acting like the “Ugly American” reputation we hold. Very sad and embarrassing.

  8. Joe from Longboat says:

    It’s unfortunate that nearly all of the people who used to be journalists seem to only be interested in panic. Sure, it’s good for ratings, but with social media and these endless hysterical broadcasts the public is left in a permanent state of depression. Our children aren’t getting a proper education and many of us are out of work due to the illogical response to this virus.

    While certain governors claim “even one death is too many” and encourage doctors to write Covid on every death certificate, on average about 9,000 people die in the USA every day. These days, it’s a few more. It’s been said (but not really proven) masks can help, distancing can help and not sending Covid positive people to nursing homes can help too. Less people die because that’s how epidemics work.

    Positive tests go up a little as we all go out into society- remember “bend the curve”? Well, the whole reason we did that was to move some of the positive tests to a later date on the calendar when hospitals and doctors could handle them. It’s working as planned. Deaths are dropping because positive tests in younger people never equaled death- it’s the elderly that suffer the most here. Plus, doctors are much better at treating us today, more medications, high-flow oxygen, posturing, all newly implemented techniques that equate to higher survival rates.

    The plans that were put in place months ago are working, but it was a “novel” virus never seen before and nobody is perfect. The state is recovering, we’re testing like crazy so of course a few more positive tests will come. But, with the measures in use today deaths are down. Let’s remember this and stick to the plan. The endless cries from the media really do more harm than good but they’ll never stop, they have an agenda. I just don’t watch them any more.

  9. It’s really sad when a national catastrophe becomes fodder for your personal crusades. In this case, you are using the coronavirus crisis to attack “the media.” Rather than write something thoughtful, you indulge in personal complaints and stretch the facts to do it. Yes, the number of coronavirus cases is going up because there is more testing AND also because there is a higher rate of positive tests, which you choose to ignore. Yes, the death rate remains low, but as the CDC states, it could very well increase. Are you really happy with 200,000 plus deaths a year? That’s more than all the lung and breast cancer deaths in this country. And, we’re comfortable with those figures, yes?

  10. Phil says:

    To Paul Kersey, I suggest that you turn your swords into plowshares. Take those MAGA hats and turn them into masks. That way you can show your unwavering devotion to the Donald while also demonstrating that you care about your neighbors. Think of how cool you’ll look in the aisles at Publix. #MasksWork

  11. Paul Kersey says:

    May I suggest to Phil that the government should also order the wearing of MAGA hats while out in public. As long as we’re violating constitutional rights let’s really go for it! They will better the health of the entire country. Fact.

  12. Nicole says:

    Excellent article with valid points. It’s the death rates that count. Thank you.

  13. Phil says:

    Universal mask use when social distancing is not possible will make a big difference. Look at the numbers for Japan, where everyone masks up in public. For those who feel that their constitutional rights are being violated by government ordered mask use, I ask if your rights are trampled when you are required to wear something covering your privates? How about when you are required to wear a shirt and shoes in a grocery store?
    Masks will help us stay open and hasten our return to low numbers.

  14. That was refreshing.

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