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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

DONALD TRUMP and the COVID19 PANIC: A Comprehensive Analysis

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Editor's Note: The topic of this article is obviously so important to the lives of all of us at the moment that I'd like to encourage thoughtful debate on it for the next several days.  I invite all Remnant followers to read this piece and to then help us to get the conversation going. We need not engage in spitting contests against one another along the lines of a particular partisan point of view carefully prepared for us by the media. Rather I invite all comers to carefully consider the evidence provided herein, and then to contribute to the discussion in the comments section below.

We will be leaving this article in its present location here on our homepage through the weekend in the hope that it might provide a truth and information service as we all grapple with this bizarre turn of events. May God grant us true discernment of what's really going on here. - Michael J. Matt

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Introduction: Two Competing Narratives

AMERICA IS NOW in the grips of a struggle between two competing narratives surrounding the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, so named because it is a coronavirus disease first detected in 2019.

The Republican narrative is that COVID-19 is a deadly pandemic that could kill millions, but the American people, led by President Trump, will defeat the virus in a great demonstration of American courage and resolve no less momentous than the victory in World War II. The American economy will revive, and free enterprise will flourish once again in the world’s most vibrant economy, bigger and better than ever.

The Democrat narrative is that COVID-19 is a deadly pandemic that could kill millions, yet Trump has failed miserably to blunt its relentless and deadly advance.  The only way to save America from the deadly pandemic is to restructure the entire nation along the lines dictated by the Democrat Party’s radical left wing, which now comprises essentially the entire party.

corona task force presser

Both sides agree that the most drastic emergency measures are necessary to stem the deadly pandemic, including the lockdown of entire cities and states, closure of “non-essential” businesses, bans on public gatherings of more than a certain number of people—religious services included—“social distancing,” constant handwashing and testing of vast numbers of people to see if they have the virus.

chris corona quote 1

Both sides also agree that American industry must be redirected to the mass production of millions upon millions of face masks and test kits and thousands upon thousands of ventilators to save the lives of the presumed crowds of dying patients among the millions who will supposedly be infected by the virus.

But both sides have generally ignored or downplayed two salient facts: (1) months after the COVID-19 virus first appeared on our shores, the total American death toll from the virus stands around 800 as of March 25, whereas at least 23,000 Americans have died from influenza this flu season as of March 14; (2) since 2010 anywhere from 12,000 to 61,000 Americans have died from annual seasonal influenza.

Finally, the Republican narrative calls for a swift end to America’s “war time footing” respecting the virus, while the Democrat narrative demands an indefinite suspension of normal social and business activity for the blatantly political purpose of ruining the economy, thus insuring Trump’s defeat in the upcoming Presidential election.

H3N3 tent CAA medical tent is set up in the parking lot for overflow flu patients outside Loma Linda Medical Center. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
However, this was to care for patients with the 2018 influenza A strain known as H3N2, which hospitalized thousands.

My purpose in writing the following essay is, first of all, to argue for a dispassionate examination of what the data actually show so far about the impact of COVID-19 as compared with influenza. I believe that examination will demonstrate that both narratives are very likely wrong about the threat of this disease and what must be done to combat it, and that COVID-19 is really no more of a threat, and probably far less of a threat, than the current seasonal influenza.

I will also argue that while both narratives are wrong in this respect, the Republican narrative is ultimately benign and will lead to prompt recovery of normal social and business activity suspended in fear of the virus, whereas the Democrat narrative is at bottom a devious, indeed psychopathic, attempt to exploit fear of the virus in order to wreck the “Trump economy” beyond repair and thereby enhance the Democrats’ prospects for regaining control of all three branches of  the federal government in 2020—a nightmare scenario for America.

The “Panic Narrative” from which Trump Has Dissented

I am not here diminishing the horror of death by any cause, including COVID-19, which is an awful way to die.  I am, rather, objecting to the sheer injustice of what is being done to good and sensible people who have been reduced to a condition of abject terror by non-stop death counts, breathless reports of “surging numbers of cases”—a meaningless statistic, as we shall see—photos of coffins and people on ventilators in Italy, and wild, evidence-free predictions of millions of deaths in America. 

Here we encounter a third narrative, the “panic narrative” created by the almost entirely anti-Trump media, eagerly aided and abetted by the Democrat activists, but not excluding even Fox News to some extent. The panic narrative underlies both the Republican and Democrat narratives and has come to dominate public opinion with enormously negative social consequences that may well prove far more damaging to social order than the virus itself.

As Doctor Drew Pinsky, a liberal no less, has rightly observed:

“Essentially the entire problem we’re having is due to panic, not the virus…. The flu virus in this country is vastly more consequential and nobody is talking about that…. That is what concerns me.  It is a press-induced panic that will have real consequences; it will not be the virus.” 

Pinsky, however, is but one of a growing number of rational observers of the scene who are warning against the panic narrative, including the twelve medical experts whose views are collated here.

doc hospital tentPicture from the 2017-2018 H3N2 flu epidemic, which caused the medical community to do the following: asking staff to work overtime, setting up triage tents, restricting friends and family visits and canceling elective surgeries, to name a few.

Until Monday, Trump had conformed to the panic narrative, but at Monday’s press briefing he made it clear that the narrative will no longer govern his position as massive damage to the economy mounts with no compelling evidence that it was ever warranted and certainly no reason to allow it to continue indefinitely. He declared, in essence, that the Republican narrative must now be severed from the media’s panic narrative so that America can return to regular social and economic functioning.

Trump’s emphasis on Monday was on a period of fifteen days for a continued crisis footing, after which the panic narrative will be abandoned in favor of a return to business as usual with monitoring of viral “hot spots,” beefing up medical response capabilities, testing only the symptomatic, and focusing on the susceptible elderly instead of a theatrical and patently futile attempt to quarantine the entire nation, shutting down the economy with immense destructive consequences. Indeed, this week was the tipping point at which Trump had to declare as he did Monday morning, in full caps, via Twitter: “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”

At a virtual town hall yesterday and the later press briefing that afternoon, Trump upped the ante in his departure from the panic narrative. He declared his intention that life as usual should resume by Easter Sunday, a date whose significance was not lost on the ever-hostile press room phalanx, which bristled at the idea as Trump explained it:

“Look: Easter’s a very special day for me. And I see it sort of in that timeline that I'm thinking about. And I say, 'Wouldn't it be great to have all the churches full? The churches aren't allowed, essentially, to have much of a congregation there… You’ll have packed churches all over our country. I think it would be a beautiful time, and it’s just about the timeline that I think is right.”

Nothing doing! say the Democrats and their cable news battalions. So the big question, as I discuss below, is whether Trump will be able to put the brakes on the express train of panic by which the media, Democrats in Congress and Democrat state governors and big city mayors are driving the nation toward a disastrous crash that could lead to another Great Depression.  What we are seeing now is the same hysteria the Left is inciting regarding “climate change” based on computer models generating dire, world-ending scenarios.  Likewise, with COIVID-19, notes a writer for the Federalist, “a handful of Democratic activists [have] created alarming, but bogus data sets to scare local and state officials into making rash, economy-killing mandates.”

Before presenting the facts I hope will dispel the media-generated atmosphere of panic for people of good will, some preliminary observations and questions.

Weaponizing Compassion

It is necessary to address at the outset a key element of the panic narrative surrounding COVID-19: the accusation that critics of the narrative who point to the massive death toll from the flu in order to put the COVID-19 outbreak into its proper perspective “don’t care about old people” and are taking a “clinical numbers approach” to death and suffering. 

Every death is reason for grief, but compassion for the dead and the dying does not depend upon the molecular configuration of a particular virus that happens to be the cause of illness or death. Nor does compassion for the elderly who succumb to a final illness mean that we must ignore the reality that, as Dr. Pinsky notes, influenza is a far greater threat to them than COVID-19 and that panic over COVID-19 is more harmful than the coronavirus itself.

To focus on COVID-19 victims as the ones who must preoccupy us, while tens of thousands who die horrible deaths from influenza are ignored, is a dangerous distraction. And the Democrat politicians and operatives who are weaponizing compassion for the elderly to serve a politically motivated panic narrative are the same people who, once this virus has passed, will resume their advocacy of passive and active euthanasia and “do not resuscitate” orders for the inconvenient elderly in nursing homes and hospitals. Their naked hypocrisy should infuriate anyone with a sense of justice and fair play.

Some Preliminary Questions and Answers for the Perplexed

Query:  If, as I have been told, COVID-19 is “ten times more deadly than the flu,” which has killed 23,000 Americans so far this flu season according to the CDC, why have we not seen deaths from COVID-19 in the tens of thousands after months of hearing about how deadly it is, and why is it that I don’t know anyone who has this virus, whereas I know people who have had the flu this season?

Answer: COVID-19 is not ten times more deadly than the flu, but rather far less so as shown in the discussion below.

Query:   If COVID-19 had the potential to infect 60.8 million Americans, cause 274,304 hospitalizations and more than 12,000 deaths, what should government officials do about it?

Answer:  Exactly what government officials did during the swine flu epidemic of 2009/10, which infected 60.8 million Americans, caused 274,304 hospitalizations and more than 12,000 deaths: i.e., the usual health advisories and responses of the health care system to the annual deadly wave of flu and flu-like illnesses.

CNN downplayed Swine Flu during Obama Administration... why aren't they doing so with Corona? cnn on swine flu

Query: If there are “millions” of people infected with the COVID-19 virus in America but in the end, say, 3,000 people die from it, what does this mean?

Answer: It means that COVID-19 is a flu-like illness whose death rate is a fraction of that for seasonal flu, which has already killed 23,000 people this flu season

Query:  If we are told by the media that “reported cases” of COVID-19 have “skyrocketed in number,” what should we think?

Answer: We should welcome the good news, because the larger the number of “reported cases” the lower the death rate from COVID-19. The only number that matters is the number of deaths compared to the number of total cases. There are millions of “reported cases” of influenza every year and tens of thousands of people die from it. But so far, as this flu season ends, there have been only around 800 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the entire country as of this writing (March 25). So, if there are “millions of infections” with COVID-19 as media commentators suggest (without evidence), then the death rate from COVID-19 is vanishingly small and far less concerning than seasonal flu.

Query: If there are “millions” of people infected with “the coronavirus” but only around 800 people have died from it since the virus reached our shores in January, what does this mean?

Answer: It means the media have hyped a transient wave of viral infection into a world-ending plague, which they have done many times before (SARS, MERS, Ebola, etc.).

Query:  If the federal and state governments took no action to shut down commerce and social interaction in all the years the seasonal flu spread like wildfire and killed tens of thousands of Americans, including 61,000 Americans during the 2017/18 flu epidemic alone, should governments be taking the drastic measures we now see concerning COVID-19?

Answer:  There is no rational basis for imposing crippling and devastating restrictions on the entire nation to address a viral outbreak manifestly less lethal or no more lethal than seasonal flu.

Query:  If, after months of dire predictions, the total death toll from COVID-19 is not even beginning to approach that of the average annual influenza epidemic, why is our entire country being shut down and the economy destroyed, and why are our civil liberties being suppressed on a scale not seen even during World War II?

Answer:  The destruction of the American economy will deprive Trump of his best argument for reelection, which is why, at yesterday’s press briefing, members of the hostile media were attempting to box him into a commitment that he will not “reopen” the country on Easter unless some ill-defined “metric” is reached in the opinion of “experts.” In other words, perpetuate the damage as long as possible for political ends. The intent is as transparent as it is psychopathically cruel to the American people.

And now to an examination of the data to which, as noted above, voices of reason are now pointing in an effort to dispel the panic over COVID-19 before it causes irreparable social and economic harm.

The World Data Do Not Warrant Panic

Since my last article on this subject, I have looked at the accumulating data concerning the impact of COVID-19 and have realized that staring me in the face all along was plain evidence that the media-driven hysteria we have had to endure since January has no real basis in verifiable fact and that what we are witnessing is perhaps the worst example of sensationalist journalism in our nation’s history.

We are now in the third month of dire, evidence-free, media-promoted predictions that COVID-19 is “a deadly coronavirus pandemic” that will soon be killing millions of people around the world. Chief among these prophets of viral doom is Dr. Anthony Fauci, the blabbermouth fearmonger on Trump’s “Coronavirus Response Team.” Throughout the month of March, Fauci has been airing on TV his criminally reckless predictions that millions of Americans could die from COVID-19 and that the coronavirus causing it is “ten times more lethal than the seasonal flu.” Yet it was none other than Fauci who, back in February, co-authored a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine in which he said quite the opposite:

If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.

That is the essential fact the media are doing everything in their power to hide for as long as possible.  So why did Fauci flip-flop?  Perhaps it has something to do with him being a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat and a lover of Hillary Clinton, as revealed in leaked emails to Clinton from “your doctor admirer,” in one of which Fauci tells Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s legal adviser and co-conspirator in her email coverup: “Please tell her we all love her and are very proud to know her.”

Fauci has been subtly undermining Trump at every turn, including at yesterday’s press briefing  during which he rather deviously attempted to cut back on Trump’s commitment to “reopen the country” on Easter Sunday by rambling on about how more data are needed, as if Fauci will be the one to determine how much longer the national life will be strangled by fear of a virus whose lethality pales in comparison with the current flu epidemic.

Fauci has also undermined Trump’s expression of optimism about the apparently effective treatment of COVID-19 with the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine combined with azithromycin. Ignoring studies that show its effectiveness in reducing viral load to curative levels, Fauci told Face the Nation that “I was taking a purely medical, scientific standpoint and the President was trying to bring hope to the people.”  The entirely predictable media spin was that Fauci is a scientist while Trump is a huckster trying to sell false hope to the masses.  But Fake News CNN, one of Fauci’s frequent forums, informs us that there is no hope: “Trump peddles unsubstantiated hope in dark times.” Anyone who thinks COVID-19 has not been politicized by the Democrats and their media operation need only read that CNN headline to be relieved of this delusion. 

Dr. FauciDr. Fauci

Trump needs to give Fauci the hook before he does any more damage with his big mouth.  A good sign was Fauci’s non-appearance at Monday’s press briefing and yesterday’s virtual town hall in the Rose Garden, prompting reporters who are essentially DNC operatives to press Trump repeatedly on where Fauci was, when Fauci would return to the podium, whether he would take Fauci’s recommendations on whether the ruinous restrictions of social and economic activity motivated by their own panic narrative should be lifted next week.  Fauci! Fauci! Fauci! Give us Fauci! The fake news brigade in the press room was laughably blatant in its recognition that Fauci the Hillary-lover is the Democrats’ inside man. But, sad to say, Fauci was back at the podium for yesterday’s afternoon briefing.

chris corona quote 3

At any rate, despite week after week of orchestrated panic about dark times in which there is no hope, no hope at all—and don’t dare to suggest otherwise—the predicted millions of deaths have yet to occur.  It becomes clearer with each passing day that something is seriously amiss with the panic narrative. As of this writing, the total worldwide death toll since the virus first appeared back in December is around 20,000 in a world population of 7 billion, or an average of around 166 deaths per day with no exponential growth in the rate of death. In fact, the growth rate in new cases has repeatedly fallen at or below 1.0 since February 14, which is “a sign of decline, with the quantity eventually becoming zero.”

As for influenza, according to the CDC it kills between 291,000 to 646,000 people worldwide each year. And according to the Worldometers website, at least 112,000 people have died from the flu since January 2020. Thus, during the past 90 days or so, 1244 people have died from the flu each day on average—seven times the daily death rate for COVID. 

 Speaking globally, therefore, at this point in the panic narrative, as Trump has evidently discerned, there is no hard empirical evidence—none—that COVID-19 represents anything more than a small addition, around 20%, to the already enormous annual worldwide burden of Influenza-Like Illnesses (ILIs) and their mortality. 

chris corona quote 2

The Italy Situation

The situation in Italy, which is now driving the panic narrative in place of China, does not change that assessment.   First of all, the number of daily deaths is already falling in Italy’s hard-hit northern region, as shown in the daily cases bar graph found here and as noted by Trump’s other medical adviser on the dais, Dr. Deborah Birx.  This decline indicates that, like all other viral outbreaks, the Italian COVID-19 outbreak has already passed its peak and will soon end.

In Italy the total death toll from COVID-19 stood at 7,503 as of today.  That is indeed a very severe localized cluster of illness, but in my previous article on this subject I cited this definitive study, whose authors concluded that total excess mortality from ILI’s (including influenza) in all of Italy was 41,066 deaths during the 2014/15 flu season and 43,336 deaths during the 2016/17 flu season. From influenza alone the authors concluded that the total Italian death toll was 68,000 over four flu seasons—2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17—or an average of 17,000 flu-related deaths per season in the whole of Italy. 

Furthermore, there is good reason to believe that the COVID-19 death toll from Italy is significantly exaggerated by inclusion of cases in which coronavirus was detected in the decedent but the cause of death was something else entirely.  That much was admitted by no less than Prof. Walter Ricciardi, an advisor to Italy’s minister of health, and his admission has major implications for the whole panic narrative:

The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus. On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 per cent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 per cent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity - many had two or three.

Note well: In Italy only 12 percent of the deaths attributed to COVID-19 were directly caused by coronavirus as opposed to one or more pre-morbidities.  Thus explodes the sensational claim that the coronavirus in and of itself is ravaging the Italian population like the Black Plague.  Has the same imprecision tainted COVID-19 death reports from other countries?  The suspicion that it has been cannot now be excluded.

In any event, while the already improving situation in northern Italy is horrendous, objectively speaking it has been no more horrendous than the worst of recent Italian flu seasons—indeed, far less so in terms of the sheer number of deaths. The difference with COVID-19, of course, is that intense scrutiny has been given to every death in northern Italy in order to drive the worldwide panic narrative, including the preposterous claim that the situation in Italy proves that the whole world is in peril from this particular coronavirus.

With this global background in view, let us now examine more closely the American data to which I alluded in my previous article on these pages.  These data ought to allay the concerns of anyone who has been disturbed by the predominantly liberal media’s sensational claims and breathless reporting.

The United States Data Extinguish the Panic Narrative

As of  today, March 25, according to the Johns Hopkins resource, around 800 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 in the entire country. Given the number of 800 deaths, during the 24 days that have elapsed since the media’s sensationalistic, panic-provoking daily death count began with the first US death on February 29, there have been an average of around 30 deaths per day in the entire United States on account of COVID-19. 

But according to the CDC as of March 14, 2020 there were at least 23,000 flu deaths during the 2019-2020 flu season.  Given that the CDC considers the current flu season to comprise 11 weeks as of March 14, during those 77 days the daily death toll for the common flu in this country has been 298 deaths on average, a daily death toll almost exactly ten times higher than that for COVID-19. Consider also that for the previous flu season, 2017/18, the total death toll was a staggering 61,000, according to the CDC estimate.  Assuming a flu season of four months duration in 2017/18, the average daily death toll was 508 per day, or seventeen times higher than the daily death toll for COVID-19.

chris corona quote 4

Consider also that in my home state of Virginia alone there were at least 782 influenza-related deaths during the current flu season as of March 19. The single state of Virginia has experienced nearly as many deaths from influenza as COVID-19 has reportedly caused in the entire United States.

Finally, as with Italy (and perhaps every other country), there are serious grounds for doubting the precision of COVID-19 death toll reporting in the U.S. As the CDC’s Web page admits, the data on deaths “include both confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 reported to CDC or tested at CDC.” Confirmed and “presumptive”?  Just how many cases are “presumptive,” and what does “presumptive” mean?  How do we really know that the cause of death in each and every case was solely COVID-19 rather than co-infection by influenza or some other cause entirely, but masked by a false positive coronavirus test? Or how do we know that the cause of death even in those who were confirmed positive for COVID-19 was not a heart attack, a stroke, or an underlying respiratory condition that could be tipped into fatality by any viral illness, even a common cold, in patients of very advanced age?  

On that score it seems that we have in the U.S. the same “generous” protocol as Italy for loosely attributing deaths to COVID-19. Consider this telling report, which may well represent the tip of an iceberg of questionable data in this country:

A 61-year-old Warren County man who tested positive for COVID-19 died at a Lehigh Valley hospital, an advisory issued Saturday afternoon says…. Lehigh County Coroner Eric Minnich confirmed the patient died Friday night at St. Luke’s University Hospital in Fountain Hill. He said the primary cause of the man’s death was a head injury from a fall at home, but that the virus was listed as a contributing factor to his death. The case was one of two COVID-19 cases from Washington that were reported in the advisory. The other case is that of a 60-year-old man who is recuperating at home. They are the borough’s first two reported cases of the virus.

Quite remarkable and quite unsettling: the man died of a head injury, but his death was still attributed to COVID-19 as a “contributing factor.” Just how many of the 800 deaths attributable to COVID-19 as of this writing are in the same “contributing factor” category? That information would seem rather important to a determination of exactly how deadly “the deadly coronavirus pandemic” really is.

As the real facts about COVID-19 slowly surface, Trump’s departure from the panic narrative creates more space for voices of reason. One such is John Ioannidis, Professor of Medicine, epidemiology and population health, biomedical data science and statistics at Stanford. The eminently qualified Professor Ioannidis makes the same point The Remnant has been stressing on these pages: that the media have been promoting the false impression that the overall death rate from COVID-19 is simply the death rate among a narrow cohort of critical cases who sought urgent medical care.  But in truth, only the total number of cases, which is unknown, can support a reliable estimate of the incidence of infection in the general population and thus the true rate of death from any disease. Writes Ioannidis:

This evidence fiasco creates tremendous uncertainty about the risk of dying from Covid-19. Reported case fatality rates, like the official 3.4 per cent rate from the World Health Organisation, cause horror and are meaningless.…

A population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05 per cent is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. It’s like an elephant being attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies….

The most valuable piece of information for answering those questions would be to know the current prevalence of the infection in a random sample of a population and to repeat this exercise at regular time intervals to estimate the incidence of new infections. Sadly, that’s information we don’t have.

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But it turns out we do have information that explodes the related claim that COVID-19 is “much more contagious than the flu.”  As Vice President Pence reported, based on 254,000 tests so far “It’s working out to be about one in ten Americans who have been tested who thought they had coronavirus, actually had it. Nine out of ten did not.”

Now, if nine out of ten symptomatic people who thought they had COVID-19 really just had the flu or some other flu-like illness in a sample of 254,000, there is no demonstrable reason to believe that testing millions of non-symptomatic people would yield a higher rate of infection. But let us suppose that at least every American with flu-like symptoms were tested and that the result would be the same 10% rate of infection.  According to the CDC estimate, “so far this season there have been at least 38 million flu illnesses…” So, if testing revealed that 10% flu illnesses were really COVID-19 illnesses, that would mean 3.8 million cases of COVID-19 in the country but only around 800 deaths so far from coronavirus, many of which may have been only loosely attributed to the virus. The COVID-19 death rate would thus work out to a vanishingly small .00016 percent.

chris corona quote 5

What is more, at Tuesday’s press briefing Dr. Birx reported that the death rate for COVID-19 will likely fall below 1% based on the number of people tested so far. It now appears that the true death rate will be no higher than that for the flu or even much lower, as more and more cases are reported but the death toll remains quite low compared to influenza.  So, much then, for the “ten times deadlier than the flu” claim, which now joins the “much more contagious than the flu” claim in the discard bin. Yet both claims are still central to the media’s endless panic narrative.

dr brixDr. Birx

Nothing more needs to be said to demonstrate the panic narrative the media continue to push 24/7 is a dishonest or at best completely untrustworthy account that aims to terrify people by depicting COVID-19 as an imminent threat to millions of lives that Trump has failed to address adequately.

Trump, however, has—it would appear quite cleverly—accommodated the panic narrative while distancing himself from it at the same time. Thus, in response to the Democrats’ squawking about how he has failed to provide tens of thousands of ventilators, tens of millions of N95 face masks for medical providers, and tens of millions COVID-19 test kits, Trump has enlisted private companies to do just that, and the complainers have now been swamped with these materials.  But to what end? Where are the tens of thousands of critical care COVID-19 patients plugged into ventilators?  Why do tens of millions of Americans have to be tested for COVID-19 if they are not symptomatic when even the perfidious Fauci now admits that only the symptomatic should be tested? And it defies belief that America’s medical professionals really need 300 million N95 face masks to deal with COVID-19 when there is no evidence that it is any more dangerous to them than the flu that kills vastly more people each year.

Keep Fear Alive!

As the data begin to mount against the panic narrative, its promoters are laboring to keep fear alive. They argue while a death toll of around 800 from COVID-19 so far seems very small compared to the massive national death tolls for seasonal flu, those 800 deaths signal that soon the “deadly pandemic” will erupt exponentially and cause hundreds of thousands if not millions of additional deaths unless America becomes a virtual police state under lockdown, preferably supervised by the military, as the worldwide leftist media collective is now suggesting. 

Does anyone really believe this any longer?  Trump certainly doesn’t. And after months of media hysterics, is it not obvious that this wild claim, which finds no statistical support anywhere in the world, has always been nonsensical on its face?

But the partisans of panic have a fallback position.  Even if no one buys the “millions will die” scenario, there is always speculation that crowds of critically ill COVID-19 patients will soon descend on hospitals everywhere in desperate need of thousands and thousands of beds and respirators and that there will be a catastrophic collapse of our health care system.  But this prophecy of health care implosion is based on 800 COVID-19 deaths so far, when the flu has already caused tens of thousands of deaths, as noted above, and 390,000 hospitalizations as of March 14.  No collapse there!

Inadvertently revealing how exaggerated this claim is, the biggest Democrat squawker of them all, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, stages daily coronavirus press briefings in New York City while sitting in front of massive stockpiles of medical supplies in the vast Javits Center, as if to show that New York’s hospitals are bracing for a plague that could wipe out the city’s entire population. But to date there have been 192 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in New York City out of a population of 8.6 million, and not even the sensationalist media coverage claims City hospitals are overwhelmed or people are dying for lack of respirators.   For New York State as a whole, 285 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19, including the 189 deaths in New York City.  But in 2017, as reported by the CDC, 4517 people died from influenza in the State of New York.

Cuomo’s posturing was exposed with devastating effect by the report that in 2015 he rejected a recommendation to buy 16,000 additional ventilators for New York’s stockpile in case of a pandemic, opting instead for “rationing the ventilators they already had.” But he approved a far more expensive $750 million boondoggle for construction of a solar panel factory. Confronted with this embarrassing information, Cuomo admitted that New York has enough ventilators to deal with COVID-19 after all, especially now that Trump has sent 4,000 of them to New York City.

Where, then, is real evidence of a looming health system collapse in New York or anywhere else because of COVID-19? On that score, consider also this Time magazine report during the 2017/18 flu season, one of the deadliest on record: “The 2017-2018 influenza epidemic is sending people to hospitals and urgent-care centers in every state, and medical centers are responding with extraordinary measures: asking staff to work overtime, setting up triage tents, restricting friends and family visits and canceling elective surgeries, to name a few.”

So, even during a record-breaking flu season with a death toll of 61,000 and 270,000 hospitalizations—fewer hospitalizations, in fact, than estimated for this flu season—our health care system did not collapse and none of the draconian measures we are now witnessing were even suggested. In fact, our common experience confirms that during many past flu seasons hospitals reported that they were strained to the limit by surging admissions for influenza. But the health care system survived, and it will survive this time as well.

Reaching their last ditch as the data relentlessly expose their wild exaggerations, the promoters of panic are now speculating that the virus behind COVID-19 could mutate into a more lethal variant or that it might go away this year but return with a vengeance next year, so that America must remain under some form of lockdown/quarantine regime that, quite conveniently for the Democrats, hobbles the economy.  The COVID-19 menace must never end!

The Democrat partisans of panic are so determined to keep fear alive that they will hear nothing of any possible treatment for COVID-19.  As the CDC has reported, there is evidence that treatment with hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, long used to malaria, may be effective in reducing viral load and shortening the course of infection. A French study “‘showed a significant reduction of the viral carriage’ and ‘much lower average carrying duration’ compared to patients receiving other treatment.”

But because Trump has endorsed this possible treatment, it must be opposed! Evidencing that the the COVID-19 panic narrative has elevated the Democrat “Resistance” to the level of insanity, Nevada’s Democrat Governor Steve Sisolak has issued a preposterous executive order banning “the use of anti-malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus patients.”  Sisolak apparently thinks he has the authority to prohibit a medical treatment because in his view that there is no “consensus” on its effectiveness, citing none other than the omnipresent Dr. Fauci.

Meanwhile, the lying media have run with the headline that an Arizona man died by “self-medicating” with chloroquine, as if to suggest this is Trump’s fault for promoting the treatment, while burying the fact that the man stupidly ingested fish tank cleaner containing the wrong kind of chloroquine.

Have we not had enough of this frenzied spectacle? Is it not time for us to calm down and seek a return to sanity?  We should reject the media’s narrative of unending fear with no hope in sight and join Trump in his determination to release the stranglehold of fear by Easter Sunday.

Between Us and the Return to Sanity: the American and Globalist Left

We have seen that the data show that America is not going to end because of a flu-like illness whose actual physical effects on human beings are dwarfed by the impact of the current influenza epidemic. It is time for everyone to take a step back in order to recognize, precisely as Dr. Drew Pinsky says, that “the entire problem we’re having is due to panic, not the virus…. It is a press-induced panic that will have real consequences…”

And the real consequences will be devastating if we continue to allow ourselves to be goaded this way and that by the media and the politicians.  But despite Trump’s determination to release the nation from this COVID-19 mania, the media and their political collaborators stand in the way of any return to normalcy, either here or abroad.

The immediate problem for Trump’s plan to resume national life on Easter is that the panic narrative has achieved an astonishingly rapid institutionalization that will be very difficult to reverse. Based on a comparatively miniscule number of people who have actually died from COVID-19, compared with massive annual death tolls from the common flu the media have studiously omitted from their panic-filled commentary, state and local governments have:

  • locked down entire towns, cities and states;
  • placed tens of millions of Americans under virtual house arrest;
  • banned gatherings of more than 50 people or ten people, depending on the locality;
  • forbidden all church services that exceed the limits on gatherings;
  • imposed draconian business closures across the nation, crippling the national economy;
  • devastated the equities markets; and
  • mobilized the National Guard to impose something like martial law if the resulting de facto dictatorship meets with popular resistance, which might actually be necessary given the possibility of mass civil disturbances provoked by economic collapse over a virus.

Consider in particular the absurd and blatantly unconstitutional business closure edicts issued mostly by Democrat governors in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in order to save America from the “deadly coronavirus pandemic” that has killed 800 people in a nation of 370 million. These governors-turned-dictators have published lists of what they deem “essential businesses” that can remain open while all the others must close indefinitely and go bankrupt in short order.  New Jersey’s list of the economic winners picked by Democrat Governor Murphy is typical:

• Grocery stores, farmer’s markets and farms that sell directly to customers, and other food stores, including retailers that offer a varied assortment of foods comparable to what exists at a grocery store;
• Pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries;
• Medical supply stores;
• Gas stations;
• Convenience stores;
• Ancillary stores within healthcare facilities;
• Hardware and home improvement stores;
• Banks and other financial institutions;
• Laundromats and dry-cleaning services;
• Stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years;
• Pet stores;
• Liquor stores;
• Car dealerships, but only for auto maintenance and repair, and auto mechanics;
• Printing and office supply shops;
• Mail and delivery stores.

Connecticut, by the way, has decided that landscaping services are also an “essential” business.  

The Governor of West Virginia, Jim Justice, has followed his Democrat counterparts by placing his entire state under house arrest and shutting down all “non-essential” businesses. Governor Justice—the irony is exquisite—is himself an on-again-off-again Democrat who got elected as a Democrat but switched to the Republican Party post-election in a cynical bid to gain Trump’s support for reelection. Justice is wrecking West Virginia’s economy based on a grand total of ZERO deaths from COVID-19, yet the rotund tyrant, a croc-wearing buffoon who cannot fit into regular shoes, will live comfortably on his billionaire’s largesse.

Here in my home state of Virginia, based on three deaths from COVID-19 while he ignores more than 700 deaths from influenza, Democrat Governor Northam has just ordered the closure of schools until the end of the school year, throwing every household with two wage earners into chaos and provoking an immediate surge in unemployment. He has also embraced the Democrat governors’ new regime of prohibitions on public or private gatherings, forbidding 10 or more people to congregate anywhere—with no exemption for religious services. The mandated closure of “non-essential” businesses includes the now standard exemption for liquor stores and pet shops. Richmond’s thriving restaurant sector is threatened with widespread bankruptcy as only takeout service will be permitted.

Northam got creative, however: His Royal Highness has decreed that “any brick and mortar retail business not listed in paragraph 5 may continue to operate but must limit all in-person shopping to no more than 10 patrons per establishment. If any such business cannot adhere to the 10-patron limit with proper social distancing requirements, it must close.” It would be hard to imagine a more crazed abuse of power than a governor’s dictate that businesses may admit no more than 10 customers at a time and must keep each customer six feet away from the other nine customers.  The resulting ten-body problem makes Euler’s three-body problem look simple.

But why, one might ask, are such businesses as pet shops, marijuana dispensaries, liquor stores and landscaping services deemed essential while others are ordered to shut their doors and go under in order to save America from the “deadly coronavirus pandemic”?  Pressed to answer the question by Fox News, New Jersey state representative Tom Kean said that they are essential because, well, they are essential. After all, pets in the tony suburb of Ridgewood must have their custom brand pet food. None of that mass-produced supermarket kibble for Coco or Max!

Even more ridiculous, the chosen “essential businesses” under the state coronavirus lockdowns embrace the vast majority of commercial foot traffic, especially the supermarkets. So, for example, under the regime of economic and social suffocation foisted upon us overnight, people may pack into the supermarkets during limited hours, handle cans, bags and boxes whose surfaces are teeming with bacteria and viruses, line up twenty deep at the checkout counters and use the same microbe-laden keypads to make their purchases.

But as for attending Mass with 100 people, even in a cathedral that can accommodate ten times that number, this is forbidden in order to save us from a deadly pandemic that would surely kill millions if such dangerous religious gatherings were allowed to continue.  No to the Mass; there must be social distancing! But people simply must be permitted to go the supermarket to lay in a supply of such essentials as Eggos and Doritos while standing shoulder-to-shoulder with all the other hoarders. And then it is off to that crowded, microbe infested liquor store to load up on those essential six packs.  Then off to the absolutely essential pet shop for whatever Fido might need, although one may not walk him within six feet of the other dog-walkers who roam the streets of my town, Richmond, the dog-lover’s capital of Virginia.

What we have here is quarantine theatre, whose pointlessness is shown by the uniform permission for masses of people to crowd into “essential business” locations where they will readily transmit a supposedly deadly and omnipresent coronavirus to each other.  Quarantine theatre now joins security theatre at the airports as another means by which government burdens millions with useless restrictions rather than identifying the tiny locus of an actual problem—in this case, a small number of COVID-19 infections, 95% of them mild, compared to tens of millions of flu infections every year.

Looking abroad to the EU, we see the same development.  In the EU countries, leftist or center-left governments are seizing the opportunity to place entire populations under house arrest and throttle “non-essential” business activity on the pretext of a transient viral epidemic less lethal than the flu epidemics they ignore every year as thousands die.  Italy, France, Belgium and Spain are now joined by the UK, which has imposed what are arguably the most outrageous restrictions on civil liberties in European history outside of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. Based on 340 deaths from COVID-19, while the UK’s average annual influenza death toll of 17,000 troubles no one in power, Parliament has decreed that UK citizens must stay at home except for permissible errands, one form of exercise a day and traveling to work for “essential” businesses, which are basically the same as those defined by the lockdown regimes imposed in this country. No one in entire UK is allowed to leave home to visit friends, and gatherings of more than two people are prohibited under threat of arrest.

As with the American version of the coronavirus lockdown regime, the laughable porousness of the EU’s quarantine theatre is shown by the permission to crowd into mass transit, supermarkets, liquor stores and other heavily-trafficked places of “essential business,” thus insuring the spread of the very virus that is supposed to be strictly contained by this “bold and decisive” government action. Yet three people congregating on a London sidewalk in the open air can be arrested if they do not disperse.

There is a great irony involved in this rampant proliferation of lockdown regimes here and in Europe: the extreme cruelty they inflict on the very elders for whom liberals now express compassion as opposed to their usual push for mercy-killing.  For fear of “the coronavirus” my own 96-year-old father has been locked up in a VA home in Ridgewood, NJ for 30 days, deprived of all social contact. During that time, he could pass away from any number of causes without ever seeing his family members again or receiving Last Rites. Imagine the anxiety experienced by many very elderly Catholics who find themselves imprisoned in nursing homes and other places, worrying about whether they might suddenly die without the helps of the Church.

Even on a purely natural level this cruelty to the elderly is senseless.  In this video, a physician in Germany protests the “grotesque, absurd and very dangerous” attempt to lock up the elderly because of worldwide mania over a particular coronavirus, depriving them of visits, family gatherings, recreation, sports, hobbies and holidays that would actually prolong their lives, which they have the right to live as fully as possible until, as is inevitable, they die of natural causes.

How can rational observers fail to see in all of this a global travesty of epochal proportions, a catastrophic failure of prudence as Jeff Mirus has so brilliantly explained, driven by an orchestrated universal panic the likes of which the world has never seen? The whole thing seems diabolically inspired: not a virus, but irrational fear of a virus imperils the world.  The fear itself is viral, and the American strain could be dubbed DNC-19.

Conquering DNC-19

Trump surely understood that if he did not ride the beast of the panic narrative it would devour him, given the Democrats’ almost total control of the media that have hounded him with one phony scandal after another for more than three years. That is why he went along with this insanity until  Monday.

But now the question is whether Trump can really do anything to stop Democrat governors and state legislatures from institutionalizing panic with extended lockdowns and other oppressive measures before DNC-19 wrecks the economy beyond repair, destroys millions of lives economically, spikes the rate of mental breakdowns and suicides, and rends the social fabric even more deeply than it already has been by the Left’s “Resistance.”  

There is every sign that the Democrat governors and mayors who have imposed pop-up dictatorships to “fight the virus” will refuse to go along with Trump’s plan to liberate America by Easter.  In fact, at yesterday’s press briefing the media jackals yammered at Trump about how he could even consider setting a date for return to work and daily life, including such dangerous activities as churchgoing, without a go-ahead from Fauci and other “experts.”  Fauci, of course, obligingly undermined Trump yet again by assuring the press—at the podium from which he should have been barred days ago—that the Easter date is “very flexible” and that he and other “experts” must examine “more data” before they advise Trump whether the jackboots can be lifted from peoples’ necks. 

Every effort will be made to bind Trump to Fauci’s opinions in the hope of stalling a rescue of the states from economic collapse and virtual martial law. Among the other astounding elements of this whole freakish sociopolitical phenomenon is a complete inversion of the usual libertarian appeal to states’ rights.  Now libertarians—the rest of us as well—must look to the President of the Union to save the people from the tyranny of the states!

Meanwhile, in Congress the Democrats tried to block a stimulus bill that includes federal aid to save hundreds of thousands of small businesses that the members of their own party in the states and localities have essentially ordered to go bankrupt to “fight the virus.” The bipartisan bill that appeared ready for passage was torpedoed by the Democrats’ suddenly proffered alternative, running to 1400 pages, that would exploit the very crisis they helped manufacture and are trying to prolong—give us Fauci!­—to ram through virtually the entire wish list of the radical Left.

Beating a hasty retreat in the face of a storm of outrage over their attempt to exploit the COVID-19 panic in order to remake America, the Democrats have since agreed to a compromise package that appeared likely to make it to Trump’s desk. But, as of this writing, a “drafting error” has been uncovered that would effectively incentivize mass unemployment by paying employees who have lost their jobs under the ridiculous and destructive coronavirus lockdowns more than they would make by working. Or is it an error?  As I write this, it remains to be seen whether the Democrats will accept an amendment to fix the problem or whether they deliberately inserted this timebomb to blow up the economy.

Complicating immensely Trump’s plan to end the panic by defeating DNC-19 is that fear of COVID-19 has installed itself in public opinion like the viral memes of Richard Dawkins’ imagination. It has mutated into a kind of flash mob civic religion whose primary dogma is “Flatten the Curve” and whose signature prayer is Better Safe Than Sorry, truly an incantation worthy of Big Brother.  Bill Ackman, yet another billionaire Democrat who demands endless sacrifices from the common man, has urged Trump, with all the fervor of a post-modern Cromwell, “to shut down the country for 30 days to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus, calling it the only option to rescue the economy.” 

Ackman sees, as do all his fellow Democrats, that the miraculous coming of COVID-19 only months before the next Presidential election is a great sign of the way to national salvation: the blood sacrament of economic self-immolation so that America can rise again in a new era without Trump. As Rep. James Clyburn, the House Majority Whip, freely admitted to his media collaborators, the Democrats have seized upon the panic they helped  create and are laboring to prolong as a “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

COVID-19 must decrease so that DNC-19 can increase and reign forever as the one virus that will never go away.  While the few Republican governors and mayors who have participated in the lockdown regime will probably heed Trump’s call for an Easter liberation, the crucifixion of the economy can still be accomplished with nails driven into it by Democrat politicians at all levels of government in the big states and big cities. This, so they dream, is how the apotheosis of the Democrat Party will happen. Rising from the economic rubble they aim to produce, a new   America will be made forever safe for abortion, Planned Parenthood, sodomy, transgenderism, illegal immigration, the Green New Deal, institutionalized voter fraud, the criminalization of “hate speech,” the indoctrination of schoolchildren in all manner of sexual perversion, confiscatory taxation to subsidize a perpetual underclass in which the family has been destroyed, and whatever else the Democrats can summon up from the pit of hell and persuade the lumpen masses to accept.  The task will be far easier now that the people, thanks to COVID-19, are conditioned to accept a tyranny no longer veiled but exercised as openly as that in any banana republic—all under the banner of “Better Safe Than Sorry.”

Conclusion

Trump has survived every one of the Democrats’ desperate attempts to annul his unacceptable election as President, but can he survive a condemnation for public heresy against Flatten-the-Curveism and its suddenly emergent institutional embodiment?  I think that he will, that most Americans will credit him with overcoming the “deadly pandemic,” and that the economy will rebound dramatically with the help of Republican governors and mayors who follow his lead in leaving panic behind. 

And in November the pathological Democrat Party will pay a heavy price at the ballot box for its role in this panic, and for its leaders’ psychopathic attempt to keep it alive in the hope of maximizing damage to the nation and thus to Trump’s prospects for a second term. As for the Democrats’ media allies, their already basement-level credibility will sink into the interstices of the earth, to be buried along with the profession of journalism they have killed with their fulminating hatred of this President.

When asked about Trump’s plan to bring an end to the Coronavirus Panic of 2020 on Easter Sunday so that Americans could “pack the churches” and “get back to work,” Dr. Mehmet Cengiz Öz, popularly known as Doctor Oz, replied: “Well, it’s a good time for a resurrection, right?”  We should pray for the intention that America will be given a sign on Easter that it pleases God to see an end to this madness precisely on that holiest of Holy Days. And we should pray as well for those who have died this year—all of them, no matter what the final illness that ushered them into eternity.

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Christopher A. Ferrara

Christopher A. Ferrara: President and lead counsel for the American Catholic Lawyers Inc., Mr. Ferrara has been at the forefront of the legal defense of pro-lifers for the better part of a quarter century. Having served with the legal team for high profile victims of the culture of death such as Terri Schiavo, he has long since distinguished him a premier civil rights Catholic lawyer.  Mr. Ferrara has been a lead columnist for The Remnant since 2000 and has authored several books published by The Remnant Press, including the bestseller The Great Façade. Together with his children and wife, Wendy, he lives in Richmond, Virginia.