Mainstream media are sounding the alarm about coronavirus cases spiking across the South and West. They’re distorting the facts to cause panic, instead of reporting the whole truth.
Gov. Cuomo is piling on, accusing states that have reopened of playing politics instead of acting “intelligently.” Sorry, but “intelligent” isn’t the word that describes his administration’s pandemic response. He caused carnage by forcing nursing homes to take in infected patients. He also has no good answer for why New Yorkers unfortunate enough to catch the virus had a worse chance of surviving it than people in other states. The Empire State ranks 48 out of 50 states for survival rates.
Dodging accountability for these damning facts, Cuomo is bragging about his results and bashing President Trump for encouraging states to reopen. Cuomo is flat wrong: The US daily death count from the virus is down nearly 80 percent from its peak in March.
It’s telling that the likes of Cuomo and his media allies don’t focus on death and hospitalization rates anymore, but almost exclusively on infection rates, to build their doom-and-gloom scenarios. If infection rates soar but deaths can be kept low, the case for drastic lockdowns like New York’s collapses.
True, in some states — including Maine, Arizona, California, Louisiana, Florida and Texas — the number of cases is rising. That’s partly because people are interacting again and partly because of increased testing. But new cases are overwhelmingly young adults unlikely to die from the virus. In Florida, the median age of infected people plunged to 35 last week, from 65 in March. In Texas, too, infections are hitting young adults.
Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warns that youth can bring the infection home to the elderly. The sensible approach, then, is to take extra precautions to protect the elderly and health-challenged — not shut down the economy.
But the media are determined to arouse panic beyond reasonable caution. An NPR headline on Monday blared: “California Hits New High in COVID-19 Hospitalizations.” The truth is, Gov. Gavin Newsom reported a slight uptick in the infection rate, to 4.8 percent of those tested, up from 4.5 percent. But that’s still well below the 8 percent benchmark that he’d consider worrisome. Newsom said hospital capacity remains “stable,” and the state “is much better than where we were months ago.”
That’s true across the nation. Hospitals are ready for an influx of patients, and medical professionals know more. They’ve learned of the deadly risks of overusing ventilators and the advantages of positioning patients on their stomach to breathe. They also have at least one medication, Remdesivir, to lessen the disease’s severity.
New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg claims “America is too broken” to battle the virus. Ridiculous. Americans who catch this virus have a better chance of surviving it than do infected people in many European countries. A COVID-19 patient in Spain or Britain faces twice the risk of dying and in France nearly three times the risk, based on Johns Hopkins data. US health care is outperforming these other countries’.
The evidence is mounting that even more lives could have been saved by rushing resources to nursing homes, where half the deaths occurred, and encouraging mask-wearing instead of shutting down the economy.
Masks are essential. Even Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has come around, advising Texans to wear masks when they have to go out. A mask prevents the aerosol droplets emitted when you talk or cough from reaching everyone else.
Bandanas make a fashion statement but don’t protect the wearer. A cotton bandana is only 2 to 3 percent effective in blocking incoming viral droplets. A flat surgical mask blocks out about 56 percent of viral droplets. The molded N95 mask, which is hard to get, filters out 95 percent of viral particles.
New research confirms the virus spreads on objects. In hospitals, it’s carried on stethoscopes, thermometers and blood-pressure cuffs. In daily life, it can spread on elevator buttons, doorknobs and keyboards. Disinfect your hands and the objects you touch. Employers should consider antimicrobial keyboards, desktops and coatings.
Facts like these, not anti-opening media hype, will keep us safe.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York, the chairwoman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths and author of the forthcoming book “The Next Pandemic.”
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