On October 30, 1938, a radio show based on the classic novel “War of the Worlds” and produced by Orson Wells caused panic amongst listeners in the United States. The program was deliberately crafted to sound like a real news broadcast, purported to cover the landing of “Martian invaders” and their attack on our nation. Thousands of people called into police stations across the nation seeking information, and some were so frightened they began to flee their homes before ultimately on-air announcements made clear the whole thing was a hoax.
It took eighty years, but Orson has finally been topped. Welcome to the great Coronavirus hoax of 2020.
In March of this year, we were faced with a difficult situation. A new virus, one about which we knew very little, was spreading from its point of origin in China to the United States. The Chinese were deliberately withholding information. We were flying blind and faced with the possibility of catastrophe if we moved too slowly.
We did the prudent thing. We shut down travel from many nations including China. We put in place highly restrictive measures internally. Businesses and schools were closed. People were urged to stay at home.
We surged medical capabilities to perceived hotspots. Military hospital ships were sent to New York and Los Angeles. Huge temporary field hospitals were built in civic centers and Central Park. Time passed. We began to understand more.
It began to become clear that the new disease, COVID-19, was nowhere near as lethal as we had feared. People with severe preexisting conditions, particularly if they were elderly, were at significant risk. Others were facing something that was a threat comparable to the flu. Young people were facing almost no risk of death at all.
The hospital ships were sent back to mothballs having seen virtually no duty. The temporary hospitals were packed up. Many never saw a single patient.
And, then politics intervened. COVID-19 might not pose much of a threat to the health of most Americans, but, properly milked and spun, it might pose a threat to the Presidency of Donald Trump. The President’s strong suit had always been the performance of the economy. The virus handed the President’s enemies, the capacity to change that. They could now shut down the economy. They could bring on a depression. They could put tens of millions of Americans out of work, all in pursuit of electoral victory.
Months later, desperately, Democratic lawmakers and their allies, continue to cling to this hope. Their latest mantra is, of course, that there is now some second wave of the virus and that we must not only remain locked down but act to roll back any movement that has occurred toward normalcy. Schools cannot possibly reopen safely. Gatherings of more than a handful of individuals risk spreading the disease like wildfire and ending civilization as we know it.
It is all a lie.
The most recent estimate by the CDC of the fatality rate from COVID-19 is 0.65%. There is great dispute about this number, especially because we don’t really know how many people have had the disease, but even by this measure, that means that slightly only one out of every two hundred people who get the disease will die. Researchers outside CDC assert the rate may be closer to 0.20%.
Even this is not a constant for all portions of the community. The death rate for people under 24, for instance, is effectively zero. Overwhelmingly, in all areas of the country, the people who are dying are older individuals with preexisting health conditions. People over the age of 75 account for roughly 60% of all deaths. In some jurisdictions, like my home county, no one outside a nursing home has died to date.
Much has been made in recent days about “sudden” increases in the number of “cases.” The reporting is at best misleading if not deliberately skewed. In most cases, we are seeing a combination of factors. More people are being tested, so we are “discovering” cases that are, in fact, not new at all, they are simply cases that were not previously identified. Also, data does not flow smoothly into the system. It is often dumped in large clumps as various entities report. This gives the impression, especially with the assistance of journalists deliberately slanting their reporting, that large numbers of new cases have appeared when this is not the case.
Graphs of both new cases and fatalities in New York City show numbers dropping close to zero. A few days ago, for the first time in months, New York City reported no fatalities from COVID-19. Yesterday in Pennsylvania, as Governor Wolf announced that the “second wave” of the virus meant he would have to again begin to impose restrictions on bars and restaurants there were a reported 26 deaths in the entire state from COVID-19. This in a state with a population of 13 million people. There were 131 deaths in California with a population of 40 million.
All of these numbers are, of course, more than suspect, because almost endless problems with the reporting concerning the virus have been documented for months.
In May in Colorado, it was discovered that nearly one-quarter of all the fatalities the state was reporting as coronavirus deaths did not have the virus listed on their death certificates. Instead, it was determined that anyone who had ever had COVID-19 and then died, was counted as a COVID death. There was no necessity for a determination that the virus had actually been the cause of death.
In Washington State, the situation was found to be, if anything, worse. The state was also reporting a COVID fatality the death of anyone who ever tested positive for the disease. It was also, bizarrely enough, reporting COVID fatalities when an individual had never been a positive test but someone believed it probable that the decedent might have had COVID in the past.
In Florida recently, reports of COVID infections were shown to simply be wildly wrong. Results from testing centers were demonstrated again and again to be completely false. Orlando Health, for example, had been counted as having a 98 percent positivity rate, but investigative reporters determined the rate was actually 9.4 percent.
In multiple locations across the country, it has also been noted that every positive test for the virus is being counted as a new case. That means every time an individual is tested, if he is positive, his case is counted as if it were new. One young lady in Ohio noted recently that her elderly grandfather had been tested ten times, and each time the test had been reported to the state and counted as a new case of COVID-19. No one has any idea how many of the cases being counted nationally are really reflective only of multiple tests on the same person.
None of this means that we should ignore COVID-19. It is likely prudent, for instance, that we take measures to keep patients with the virus out of crowded nursing homes and that we enforce rules to make it difficult for visitors and staff to infect residents of such homes. It does mean, however, that we have blown this “crisis” completely out of control and that the measures in place now are being enforced not because most of us are in danger but because it is politically expedient to do so.
Real people all over this nation are paying the price for this scorched-earth approach adopted by opponents of President Trump. Bars, restaurants and small businesses are closing and many will never reopen. Husbands and wives are out of work and unable to pay the rent. Children are going uneducated.
This must end, and it must end now. The President recently ordered changes in the way data on COVID-19 must be reported. Let us hope this is a first step to shutting down the ability of his political opponents to falsify medical information and use it against him. Let us hope as well that state legislatures in places like Pennsylvania stand up and end the tyranny of Democratic governors abusing their power.
Orson Wells War of the Worlds hoax lasted a single night. This hoax has gone on much longer. It is time for it to end.