Dr. Kent Sepkowitz’s new op-ed at CNN proves again that facts do not matter if they do not align with the agenda.
Bias may be inherent in humans; therefore, influential in all forms of media and commentary. What has become clear is the anti-Trump, anti-Republican agenda. At CNN, and other outlets, bashing President Trump’s response to coronavirus is a greater priority than correctly informing the American people.
The new opinion piece, titled “Why have deaths stayed steady while Covid-19 infections are spiking?” is riddled with falsehoods by using terms like “steady,” meaning, or at least implying, staying the same, instead of reporting that deaths are and having been declining.
Perhaps Sepkowitz shares the network’s anti-Trump sentiments, but either way, the readers clear misled.
LIE #1: U.S. Coronavirus deaths are STEADY
Cases are rising.
States re-opened, and from Memorial Day through July 4th, people have been active, shopping, gathering and engaging one another. Additionally, protests and rallies have garnered millions of people, close together, yelling and screaming, all increasing their exposure risks.
The volume of testing has also grown exponentially.
Deaths are NOT rising and have NOT.
Daily tallies may spike over the previous, but the moving average clearly illustrates a trend.
Back to CNN.
“Covid-19 cases have recently spiked across the southern half of the United States,” Sepkowitz begins his article. “Given the reopening of states that exposed more individuals to contagion, this trend is not surprising. What is surprising is that the case fatality rate is so low, at least for now.
“The hallmark of the spring Covid-19 debacle was the startling number of deaths in places as far apart as New York, Detroit and New Orleans. Morgues and funeral homes were overwhelmed by the volume; some New York hospitals required refrigerated trucks to store the bodies.
“Not now, though. The surge in cases has not been accompanied by a surge in deaths. There are many theories as to why: Given a two-week or longer lag period from infection to death, it may be too soon into the new wave for deaths to have spiked (probably); more young people could be infected this time around and they have a much lower risk of death (definitely); the current patients may have fewer co-morbid conditions than those in March and April (not so sure); initially, because of limited resources, tests were done only in the very sick whereas now we can test broadly, diagnosing thousands of otherwise healthy people at little risk of severe outcome (for sure).
“Or maybe medical care has improved (not untrue).
“Or perhaps the virus has weakened (not likely).”
Sepkowitz analyzes data to present more assumptions, which we can get to, but note how quickly he glossed over the incompetence of local governance: Andrew Cuomo sending COVID positive seniors back to nursing homes; New Orleans being allowed to have Mardi Grau without any masks or social distancing and the ignorance of the facts in Florida: the average age of the infected has fallen into the 30s.
LIE #2: LYING THROUGH OMISSION
Headline: “COVID-19 numbers a senior stunner: NY state nursing homes more like funeral homes, with nearly 2,500 patient fatalities,” an article dated April 17, 2020.
To date (through July 4): Florida has had 3,703 deaths, Texas 2,648 and Arizona 1,805. All horrible and tragic, but not where the focus is: away from New York, New Jersey, California, which comprise nearly 50% of all of the deaths.
The average age of infected Floridians fell into the 30s in early June.
“I think our older populations are taking more precautions, protecting themselves a little bit more,” said Cindy Prins, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Florida. “And I think that our younger populations have moved back into the community as these stay-at-home orders have been lifted. They’re more likely to be going out, socializing and getting exposed to the virus. We’re seeing the younger population getting exposed and less of the older folks getting exposed.”
LIE #3: THERE IS NO NURSING HOME COVER-UP
“Because there is no mandatory reporting of cases by nursing homes, as well as the suggestion that some states have not been forthcoming about their nursing home cases, the only way to estimate what’s ahead is to examine cases and rates among persons 65 years old and older,” Sepkowitz asserts.
The article cites a Miami Herald attack piece which attempts to lay the groundwork for an alleged cover-up, a hiding of deaths or cases, particularly in nursing homes and prisons.
NONE of this has proven true.
The reporting on nursing outbreaks has, sadly, been to regular and covered widely. There is NO EVIDENCE of a cover-up in the public health community or health departments.
If and when there is proof, then the data can and will be adjusted (as it was in New York, just saying).
LIE #4: THEORIES PRESENTED AS FACT
Sepkowitz wraps up with doom and gloom.
“Protecting nursing home residents is critical to preventing the high case fatality rate seen in the earlier outbreak occurring in Northern states. Unfortunately, as the CDC data shows, more infections are occurring in persons 65 and over in the affected regions — just as hospitals already are full and health care workers are spent and demoralized.
“Though a repeat of the devastation seen in the spring is unlikely, we should again prepare ourselves for scenes of overwhelmed emergency rooms, morgues and funeral homes — and a federal government that cannot be bothered to develop a meaningful strategy to protect our most vulnerable citizens.”
Listing data from all over the country and pointing out positivity rates is a valid starting point, but ignoring the contact tracing influence on elevated positives is biased at best. Using the data to fearmonger to the public, setting up the attack on the “federal government,” THAT is the agenda.
Kent Sepkowitz is a New York medical doctor, an infectious disease expert; this not debatable. But clearly, the op-ed is driven to fit CNN’s narrative and agenda: paint Republican led states and Trump as bad, incompetent or evil.
The doctor glosses over the incredible advances and success in treating COVID positive patients, the horrible governance of Andrew Cuomo, Bill de Blasio and how the rise in cases has not resulted in elevated deaths…”yet,” to foretell of dark days ahead.
America rallied together in March to tackle coronavirus…”to flatten the curve” and give medical officials some time. The time was used to ramp up training, supplies, manufacturer and gather data. China was duplicitous at best, Italy’s data was saturated with elevated positivity rates and an overwhelmed health care system, while America still had open travel lanes full of COVID infectious patients.