Cover: Stop the Spread
The Summer Spike: New coronavirus cases in the U.S. soared to their highest level in two months according to a tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University published Wednesday. Infections are now back to where they were at the peak of the outbreak. More specifically, as noted by the Associated Press, the U.S. reported 34,700 new cases of the virus on Tuesday. “There have been only two previous days that the U.S. has reported more cases: April 9 and April 24, when a record 36,400 cases were logged.” Early on, states like New York and New Jersey were hot spots, but the virus has shifted south and west. Arizona, California, Mississippi, Nevada, and Texas set single-day records on Tuesday prompting state leaders like Gov. Greg Abbott to urge Texans to stay home. Here are reactions from various viewpoints about the uptick in infections:
On the Right: It’s worth starting with Vice President Mike Pence’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last week in which he says, “The media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way, and these grim predictions of a second wave are no different.” Pence says what’s “lost in the coverage is the fact that today less than 6% of Americans tested each week are found to have the virus.” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow echoed those comments Monday on CNBC when he stated, “There is no second wave coming. We’ve got the testing procedures, we’ve got the diagnostics, we’ve got the personal protective equipment]. And so I think really it’s a pretty good situation.” Lastly, Clay Travis notes in OutKick that the media is ignoring a really important statistic. According to Travis, on Sunday, “coronavirus deaths declined by 90% in this country from the high set on April 21st. That’s an incredibly positive story about our national battle with the virus. Yet, shockingly, it has received almost no media attention.” What this means is that on April 21st 2,693 people died of the coronavirus. [Sunday] 267 died. Travis believes the media isn’t covering this milestone “because they’ve recognized fear porn drives engagement, even if it isn’t reflecting reality. Scaring people to death works. Emotion is the coin of the social media realm and logical analysis of facts is disfavored if it doesn’t elicit the same firestorm of social media pandemonium. Put simply, the mainstream media doesn’t exist to inform any longer, it exists to emote.”
On the Left: The New York Times Editorial Board points to Vice President Mike Pence’s op-ed and Larry Kudlow’s comments on TV as direct opposition to what scientists are saying about the pandemic. “On Tuesday Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, told a House panel that the country has yet to clear the first wave of the pandemic and that a second wave of outbreaks is possible.” The NYT Editorial Board also responded to President Trump’s comments at his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he asked U.S. officials to slow down testing. They wrote, “If the U.S. reduces testing, case counts will decrease, but death counts will undoubtedly increase.” They continued, arguing that “The president and his most loyal supporters keep acting as though if they ignore the seriousness of the coronavirus, it will cease to exist.” The Washington Post also pointed out on Wednesday that a “New York Times-Siena College poll shows that just 38 percent approve of [Trump’s] handling of the coronavirus outbreak, while 58 percent disapprove — some of his worst numbers to date.” The President’s response to the virus is now also having international effects Thomas Colson and Adam Bienkov write for Business Insider. “A major new survey of citizens in EU countries shows that almost 60% of respondents said their view of the US had worsened during the pandemic.” Colson and Bienkov say that “European perceptions of the US have worsened far more than their opinion of China, where the government has been heavily criticized for hiding the extent of the outbreak when it began.” Not only that, but now “the EU is set to impose a travel ban on Americans coming to the continent due to the rapid spread of cases in the US.”
Flag This: If there is one thing we know for sure about the coronavirus, it’s that no one—including experts—know enough about it yet. On March 8, 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci told 60 Minutes, “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.” Then on June 5, 2020, Fauci said he has “no doubt” that Americans who aren’t wearing face masks, especially in large crowds, are increasing the risk of spreading the coronavirus. (There are claims that his first comment was taken out of context, which you can read further here.) On January 14, 2020 the World Health Organization tweeted that “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.” In an April 2, 2020 report the World Health Organization wrote, “COVID-19 is primarily transmitted from symptomatic people to others who are in close contact through respiratory droplets, by direct contact with infected persons.” By pointing out these contradictory claims, we aren’t trying to undermine the scientific community, we’re simply observing that it still seems like we don’t know enough about the virus. This lack of knowledge is what leads to two vantage points of the recent uptick in infections. Because we don’t know enough, one group of people questions protocols that led to the ruination of businesses, mass lay-offs, and lost time in schools for our younger generations. This group questions why we sacrificed these things and more for what may end up being the “flu times two”. Keep in mind, over the course of 2017-2018, 80,000 people died from the seasonal flu alone, per the New York Times. The second group hears this argument, but still thinks it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. They are more willing to isolate, wear-masks, and social distance. At the end of the day, anyone from either one of these camps who claims to know which side is right with 100% conviction is probably fooling themselves. We simply don’t know enough about the virus yet so we can’t let our lack of understanding be another partisan wedge that tears us apart.