The Hard Facts on Covid-19 Science Denial

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APA
Lynn, A., & Agresti, J. (2020, August 24). The Hard Facts on Covid-19 Science Denial. Retrieved from https://www.justfactsdaily.com/the-hard-facts-on-covid-19-science-denial
MLA
Lynn, Anna, and Agresti, James. “The Hard Facts on Covid-19 Science Denial.” Just Facts. 24 August 2020. Web. 25 November 2020.<https://www.justfactsdaily.com/the-hard-facts-on-covid-19-science-denial>.
Chicago (for footnotes)
Anna Lynn, and James Agresti, “The Hard Facts on Covid-19 Science Denial.” Just Facts. August 24, 2020. https://www.justfactsdaily.com/the-hard-facts-on-covid-19-science-denial.
Chicago (for bibliographies)
Lynn, Anna, and Agresti, James. “The Hard Facts on Covid-19 Science Denial.” Just Facts. August 24, 2020. https://www.justfactsdaily.com/the-hard-facts-on-covid-19-science-denial.

By Anna Lynn and James Agresti
August 24, 2020

Overview

In a Washington Post op-ed titled “More Republican Casualties From Trump’s Coronavirus Denial,” columnist Jennifer Rubin claims that “red states”—specifically Texas, Arizona, and Arkansas—are “paying the price” for their “arrogant and reckless disregard of expert advice.”

In concert with Rubin, multitudes of reporters and commentators have declared that Republican governors have worsened the effects of Covid-19 by “denying science” and reopening “too early.” Meanwhile, they have praised Democratic governors, like Andrew Cuomo of NY and Phil Murphy of NJ, for their handling of the pandemic.

By misusing anecdotes and stripping data of vital context, these media figures have woven a narrative that is at stark odds with reality. As documented below with credible primary sources, the hard facts show that:

  • the C-19 death rates in Republican states regularly condemned by media outlets remain far lower than in NY and NJ after more than four months of doomsday projections for Republican states.
  • Republican governors ridiculed by the media have acted in accord with the facts of science.
  • Democratic governors cheered by the media have enacted policies that flout some of the most important scientific facts about Covid-19. 

The Bottom Line is Deaths, Not Cases

On a near-continual basis since the outset of the pandemic, Rubin and many of her media colleagues have cited rising numbers of C-19 cases to castigate Republican governors for mishandling the pandemic. A small sampling of their rhetoric includes statements like these:

  • “In Arkansas (home to Trump sycophant Sen. Tom Cotton), a debacle is unfolding.”
    – Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post
  • Americans didn’t fail the Covid-19 test; Republicans did….”
    – Paul Krugman of the New York Times
  • Republicans “continue to peddle denial for political reasons.”
    – Fabiola Santiago of the Miami Herald
  • If “coronavirus has revealed anything, it’s that proud ignorance and do-nothing dangerousness is largely a Republican problem.”
    – Jill Filipovic writing at CNN
  • The “president and his Republican allies had urged people to return to normal” in TX, FL and AZ, and are therefore to blame for rising case numbers.
    – Michael Shear and Maggie Haberman of the New York Times
  • Because Republican governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis “largely ignored” the “road map to safety,” cases are now “exploding.”
    – Joanne Kenen of Politico

Yet, more than a month after the accusations above were leveled, the C-19 death rate—or the portion of the population killed by the disease—in the state of:

  • New York is 2.7 times greater than in Arizona, 3.8 times greater than in Florida, 4.8 times greater than in Texas, and 8.4 times greater than in Arkansas.
  • New Jersey is 2.8 times greater than in Arizona, 4.0 times greater than in Florida, 5.1 times greater than in Texas, and 8.9 times greater than in Arkansas.

Of course, death rates could rise in the future, but there is a lag of about 15 days between C-19 symptom onset and death—and after more than 120 days of persistent media alarmism—there is no indication that Florida or any other Republican state is in danger of reaching the level of carnage in NY and NJ.

On their own, death rates don’t prove that Republicans have done a better job of handling C-19 than Democrats. This is because association does not prove causation, and numerous other factors are at play. However, preventing deaths is the ultimate goal of C-19 policies, and death rates undercut much of the media hysteria over rising cases in Republican states.

One key fact revealed by death rates is that there is not a fixed relationship between the number of C-19 cases and deaths. For example, the people currently contracting C-19 in Florida are relatively young, and thus, they are far less likely to die from it. During Florida’s first infection peak in April, about 25% of reported C-19 cases were among people aged 65 and older, but this figure plunged to 13% by August 5.

Death rates can also cut through the noise caused by changes in testing capacity. This is important because the vast majority of C-19 cases are mild or asymptomatic, and greater testing rates can detect such cases and distort trends. Between April 1 and July 13, the number of tests per day in Florida increased by 6.5 times. This can create an illusion of “exploding” cases when, in fact, Florida’s tame death rate suggests that a sizeable portion of the rise in cases is from more testing, which is a positive development.

The Scientific Approach

In addition to ignoring death rates, Rubin and others have smeared Republican governors by calling them “science deniers” who defied “expert advice.” In reality, these governors have acted in accord with science, which is not the claims of cherry-picked “experts” but the “systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation” (Webster’s College Dictionary).

States like Florida and Texas managed C-19 by focusing on the vulnerable and giving healthy people more flexibility to live their lives. This strategy is rooted in the following scientific facts:

  • Younger people are far less likely to die from C-19 than the common hazards of life for which governments don’t lock them down:
    • Since the outset of the pandemic on March 11 through July 25, merely 1.0% of all deaths of U.S. children aged 5–14 years have involved C-19. Among 15–24 year olds, this figure is only 1.7%, and among 25–34 year olds, it is just 3.9%.
    • People under age 49 who catch C-19 and show symptoms are about 26 times less likely to die of it than those aged 65 and older.
  • Because C-19 is highly contagious, it will ultimately spread if lockdowns are relaxed in the absence of vaccines or herd immunity, regardless of whether states open “early” or not:
    • Even the Imperial College, which provided the impetus for mass lockdowns, admitted that the “more successful a strategy is at temporary suppression, the larger the later epidemic is predicted to be in the absence of vaccination, due to lesser build-up of herd immunity.”
    • The explicit goal of lockdowns was to “flatten the curve” and “slow the spread” of the virus so that cases would “stretch out across a longer period of time” and not “overwhelm” hospitals. This is illustrated by the widely cited “flatten the curve” charts, which show that lockdowns don’t reduce the number of people who catch the virus but extend the timeframe over which they catch it.
  • Second waves of infections are not limited to Republican states that opened “early” but have occurred in places like California (a heavily Democratic state that has barely loosened its lockdown), Spain, France, Israel, and Australia.
  • Absent a vaccine, the only way for people to become immune to C-19 is to catch the virus and recover. A 2012 paper in the journal PLoS One about “Immunity in Society” explains that once a high enough percentage of the population has become immune, an “immune firewall” is created, preventing further transmission to those who are vulnerable.
  • Lockdowns cause enormous suffering and death via consequences like unemployment, social isolation, delayed medical care, depression, and anxiety:
    • The United Nations reported that C-19 lockdowns are creating lethal mental health problems through an array of mechanisms like separating people “from loved ones” and “vast numbers” of lost livelihoods.
    • A 2011 meta-analysis in the journal Social Science & Medicine found that “unemployment is associated with a substantially increased risk of death among broad segments of the population.”
    • Government-mandated and personal decisions to delay medical care because of C-19 have postponed tumor removals, cancer screenings, heart surgeries, and treatments for other ailments that can lead to early death if not addressed in a timely manner.
    • To quantify just one element of the death tradeoff for lockdowns, Just Facts conducted a rigorous study that found anxiety related to C-19 will destroy at least seven times more years of life than can possibly be saved by lockdowns. After reviewing this study, the accomplished psychiatrist Joseph P. Damore, Jr. concluded that it “thoroughly answers the question about the cure being worse than the disease.”

Republican states that crafted their C-19 policies around the scientific facts above have drastically lower death rates than the oft-praised states of New York and New Jersey. Again, this association does not prove that Republican governors managed the virus better than their Democratic counterparts. However, it is flagrantly deceitful to report that Republican states “peddle denial,” put “the economy over health,” or failed “the Covid-19 test,” when in fact, their death rates are extremely low, and their actions align with crucial scientific facts.

The Real Science Deniers

In the same piece in which she vilifies “science-denying Republican leaders,” Rubin accuses them of having “blood on their hands” because they made “premature, rash and uninformed” decisions that led to “unnecessary deaths.” Yet, this description actually applies to the decisions of prominent Democrats, namely Phil Murphy and Andrew Cuomo (who Rubin lauds).

Both Murphy and Cuomo forced nursing homes to admit and readmit people who were infected with C-19. This mandate was at direct odds with two essential scientific facts that were widely known since the outset of the pandemic:

  1. Elderly people and those with chronic ailments—who are the very definition of nursing home residents—are extremely vulnerable to the virus.
  2. The virus is highly transmissible, and thus, it can easily sweep through large groups of sickly and/or aged people who live together.

Including an estimated 18 days between infection and death, over 5,900 nursing home patients in NY and 3,400 in NJ were lost by the time Cuomo and Murphy rescinded their policies.

Furthermore, the NY nursing home death toll is greatly understated because Cuomo’s Department of Health excludes residents who catch the disease in a nursing home but die “outside of the facility.” Thus, the official figure may undercount the actual number by thousands of deaths.

While rejecting calls for an independent investigation, Cuomo has repeatedly blamed others for the nursing home carnage in his state, but none of his explanations hold water:

  • Cuomo first faulted nursing homes, stating that they were only required to readmit C-19 patients “if they have the ability to provide the adequate level of care.” However, Cuomo’s executive order:
    • unequivocally states in underlined text, “No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the NH [nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.”
    • often made it impossible for homes to know if they could provide appropriate care by banning them from “requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”
    • never mentioned or implied that it is illegal under NY State law for nursing homes to accept someone they cannot care for properly.
  • Cuomo then claimed that his order “followed President Trump’s CDC guidance,” but the truth is that this guidance:
    • doesn’t recommend putting C-19 patients into nursing homes.
    • states that C-19 patients “should go to a facility with adequate personal protective equipment supplies and an ability to adhere to infection prevention….”
  • Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa later said that his policy was “in-line directly” with directives from the Trump administration’s Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), but to the contrary:
    • 12 days before Cuomo’s order, CMS warned that homes must be “vigilant in identifying any possible infected individuals” and “follow CDC guidance.”
    • CMS administrator Seema Verma directly responded to DeRosa’s claims, stating that the CMS was “clear and unmistakable” in stating that nursing homes should reject people that they cannot care for, and “any insinuation to the contrary is woefully mistaken at best and dishonest at worst.”
  • After that, Cuomo claimed that NY “had more people die” because the Trump administration “missed the boat and never told us that this virus was coming from Europe and not from China.” In reality, the Trump administration issued a near-total ban on travel from Europe on the same day that the World Health Organization declared C-19 a pandemic (March 11). Yet, Cuomo did not announce a stay-at-home order until more than a week later on March 20.
  • Finally, Cuomo’s Department of Health published a report that returned to blaming nursing homes while claiming that his policy was not a “significant factor” in fatalities. However, the report:
    • misinterprets association as causation by arguing that a “link between the timing of staff infection and nursing home fatalities” proves the nursing home staff transmitted the virus to residents.
    • uses a false measure of timing based on the number of homes with an infected staff member instead of the actual number of infected staff members.
    • uses grossly incomplete data that excludes residents who caught the virus in nursing homes but died “outside of the facility,” a figure that could number in the thousands.

So in the face of proven scientific facts and crystal clear guidance from the CDC and CMS, these Democrat governors forced C-19 carriers into the vicinity of the people who are most vulnerable to it. Yet, Rubin, cheers Cuomo for taking “responsibility,” his “remarkable success” in battling C-19, and his “effective takedown” of President Trump’s science “denial.”

Implications

The impact of the media’s misinformation stretches well beyond politics and can have deadly consequences for American citizens. For a prime example, NJ Advance Media published an article by reporter Steve Politi titled, “‘I Hate Florida!’ How the Coronavirus Convinced One NJ Snowbird to Fly Back Home.” Politi writes:

  • “Let’s face it, who among us hasn’t shaken our heads in disgust at Florida during this pandemic?”
  • “The partying spring-breakers. The slow-to-act governor. The science deniers.”
  • “The hashtag #FloridaMorons was trending on Twitter over the weekend when—days after the state recorded its highest death toll—thousands of people flocked to the just-reopened beaches.”

Politi then applauds a NJ native’s rant against Florida and her decision to move back to NJ, thus implying that Jersey is much safer than Florida. Yet, Politi fails to mention that the C-19 death rate was 15.3 times higher in New Jersey than in Florida when he wrote this article.

Despite Florida’s large elderly population, who are at a much higher risk to die of C-19, the state’s death rate is still 4.0 times lower than New Jersey. This is nearly five months since the Miami Herald editorial board lectured Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to “act like you give a damn” about C-19 and “quickly” seek guidance from the governors of NY, CT, and CA. Since the time that the Herald gave this advice on March 22, Covid-19 deaths rates have progressed as follows:

Conclusion

Rather than painting an accurate picture of reality, Rubin and many other people in the media have spread a counter-factual narrative that Republican states, like FL and TX, have mishandled C-19 while Democratic states like NY and NJ and done wonderfully. Masses of Americans make crucial life decisions based on what the media reports, and twisting facts is the worst possible way to ensure their health and safety.

  • August 24, 2020 at 9:21 AM
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    Excellent read!

    Reply
  • August 24, 2020 at 10:30 AM
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    The only people ever from fooled are wantonly so.

    Reply
  • August 24, 2020 at 10:33 AM
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    Overall, I like the argument presented here, but it is a bit one-sided in focusing so much on the date of the worst blue states, especially New Jersey and New York.

    None-the-less, I did look at COVID death rates by state and 9 of the 15 worst were blue states (this includes Washington D.C.). At the other end, 9 or 10 (sometimes it’s hard to put a state into the blue or red category) of the 15 best states in terms of low mortality rates were red states. Of course, one must keep in mind that many of those red states are sparsely populated (the Dakotas and Wyoming, for example).

    Reply
  • August 24, 2020 at 10:44 AM
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    In the first place, the actual, verified and for 100% certain deaths counted as Covid deaths is extremely suspect. No one knows that number. Who is doing the verifying and counting? The data is likely tainted to result in some predetermined outcome. Therefore, no realistic, highly probable assessments can be made. Propaganda in this country is now the number one media basis for fake facts and news. The only science I care about is my own immune system and how well it is functioning. I have NO control over anything else or what anyone else does or thinks. Herd immunity means nothing if you are not part of the heard. Vaccines mean nothing because they are more hit or miss than certain and one never knows if the vaccine was necessary. Their immune system would have probably worked much better and without the added poisons injected into their precious bodies. MY LIFE, MY CHOICE…isn’t that what the liberals are always telling us when we try to interfere in their lives?

    Reply
  • August 24, 2020 at 3:41 PM
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    well done as per the usual.

    The trend of government interference in our lives and distortions by the media continue apace.

    Reply
  • August 24, 2020 at 4:49 PM
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    I live in Texas and check C19 data on several sites daily. If the reader does not carefully analyze how the data is reported it can be quite alarming. For example the Dallas Ft Worth area discovered 5000 cases from July which they had neglected to report. Two of the sites I frequent dumped all of those cases into their database on one day in August creating a frightful spike but reduced the daily death %. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are likely to report a higher number of cases and deaths. Many likely occured over a weekend but were not reported until later. So case and death trends are skewed by the delayed reporting. One site estimates hospital bed and ICU usage based on reported cases, population and historical average bed usage. Their current estimate has occupied ICU beds at 500% which is ridiculous. Not sure what to believe. A man with one watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches can’t be certain.

    Reply
  • August 24, 2020 at 4:52 PM
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    SO when will Cuomo be charged with murder?

    Reply
  • August 25, 2020 at 5:00 AM
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    Excellent article. Media coverage of C-19 is almost all propaganda that will cease to be necessary on Nov 4. Thereafter, either the pandemic will go away or else it will suddenly get much worse, depending on who wins the election. Meanwhile, I do not know anyone who has had C-19, and no one I know, knows anyone who has had it. Do you?

    Reply
    • August 25, 2020 at 9:36 AM
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      I make that point often – I know of no one in my social or business circles who’s even tested positive, let alone gotten sick from CV. I suspect I had it in early January before it was a “thing”, and I have a nephew who was quarantined for 2 weeks in March when a co-worker of his was suspected of being infected. neither turned out to have been positive.

      Compare that to the annual cold and flu season when many folks I know get sick, often 2-3 times…

      Reply
      • November 15, 2020 at 9:45 PM
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        Your point is valid but based on very limited data. That data being your own personal observations. I say this not to lessen the value of your statement, but to beat others to the punch that may disagree. While your statement about not knowing anyone that was actually sick or even tested positive is in fact anecdotal it is anecdotal evidence that is being reported by thousands if not tens of thousands of people. When anecdotal evidence is grouped with other instances that evidence begins to become empirical. Evidence is mounting daily that the initial prognosis for this virus was overstated. As of this writing to the best of my knowledge nobody I know has been sick or tested positive and of those I’ve asked (which is admittedly not a huge percentage) have reported the same thing. They do not know anyone that has even tested positive let alone gotten sick from C-19. At a certain point the general public will have to come to terms with the fact that we overreacted and that saving face is far less important than fixing the problem. This virus was used and abused for political reasons and the statistics fed to us daily are designed to support the agenda of whatever politics is behind the whole thing. We can never again allow something like a virus, or any natural disaster, to be used as a tool to control the actions and thoughts of the general public. For this to happen people have to start to accept the truth. C-19 exists, it is a new virus that we have very quickly learned to deal with, we were blatantly lied to about the mortality rate of this virus, and the virus was used to achieve certain political agendas. If you are watching a news station or listening to a public figure that is not stating these facts, you are indeed on the receiving end of propaganda and should find a new source for information.

        Reply
  • November 2, 2020 at 3:12 AM
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    I visited this web site to research the Communist China Wuhan Virus, Covid19.
    The facts stated above allign with the research I have done during the past several months. I learned, recently, that many people are actually petrified and illogical in their reasoning about covid19, due to the fake news. I am appalled that these individuals’ decided to vote for Biden because President Trump did not do enough to stop the Covid19 virus. They did not consider that President Trump take serious, urgent action regarding the virus – some of which were criticized by Biden and Pelosi. In addition other very serious issues were addressed by President Trump, including: initiating unbelievable peace treaties, fair trade deals, save American tax dollars by not cowtowing to the WHO, rebuilding our military, de-regulating unrealistic business regulations, which increased employment – just to mention a few.
    I truly appreciate “justfactsdaily” website and plan to contribute in the near future. Thank you !

    Reply

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