June 22, 2020

Something just didn’t seem right.

I mean, here I am, The Great White Shank, in the Valley of the Sun – the East Valley, to be specific – deep in what northwest the mainstream and local media have been calling a “massive surge in Coronavirus cases” (some use “surge”, others say “spike”, others calling it the second wave, all pronounced with grave eyes and tone from masked faces). I’m driving on the 60 back to my house and pass a large billboard advertising the services of a large local medical center with a digital ER wait time prominently displayed.

The wait time displayed is 0. As in zero minutes. Z-E-R-O.

“Hey”, I says to myself, “that can’t be right. I mean, I’ve just heard an hour of the “Good Morning, Arizona” show chock-full of COVID-19 alarming reports and features about the “surge” (or was it “spike”?) in new cases. Heck, I’ll admit I ended up having to turn it off because even I was starting to feel a little spooked. I mean, I half expected to hear an announcement of the various locations around the Valley where folks could bring their dead to be stacked like cord wood for ritual burning:

“If your loved one is between the ages of 25-40, East Valley residents are encouraged to bring the corpses of loved ones to our new COVID-19 Death Reception Area (DRA) located at northwest corner of Pecos Road and the Loop 202 next to the Applebees. DRA hours are 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. Saturdays from 9 AM to 4 PM. The DRA will be closed on Sunday. Don’t forget to wear mask and gloves and follow safe distancing guidelines. Remember, we are all in this together.”

(After all, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do in a massive, world-wide pandemic where the death rate is skyrocketing?)

So why, on this gorgeous Friday morning in June is there no wait time at the ER? I would expect it to be at least 20-25 minutes, right? After all, Arizona is inundated with new COVID-19 cases, right?

The next day I was visiting a local liquor store for a bottle of Mount Gay Eclipse (my go-to rum for mojitos, as it should be yours) and they had the television on to the local FOX station. It’s around 4:30 PM and the programming was all COVID, all the time. I mean, no wonder why folks are freaking out.

I refuse to freak out. I also refuse to wear a mask in public. The whole thing is a joke.

You know how I know? Because the media is only just now back to the breathless COVID-19 coverage – at least, of course, until some white cop kills another unarmed black male, thereby setting all the usual Democratic-run inner cities back to looting and burning. Then COVID-19 coverage will then take its rightful place on the “Media Fear Scale”.

Because that’s what this country has become in this year of abject lunacy. We are being driven like pinballs from one fear to another: fear of the virus, fear of being caught in a protest, fear of being looted, fear of cops, fear of statues, fear of offending the mob, fear that our elected and public health officials will resume putting COVID-19 cases back into our nursing homes and long-term care facilities, fear that Democratic mayors and governors will keep them locked down until the end of time or the November elections (whichever comes first).

It’s a joke, right? But it’s not. The media have done their absolute best to create the environment we now find ourselves in. And (at least in the case of Arizona and I’m guessing everywhere else), the hysteria being whipped up – both nationally and locally – is simply unjustified. In fact, were the media were actually doing their jobs they would actually be trying to tamper down the hysteria, since, as Peter Heck writes in The Resurgent, What’s Happening in Arizona and the Southwest is Actually Really Good COVID News. He writes in part:

Shameless is the only word I can think of to describe it, though I know there have to be better ones out there. After months of scaring the American public with a constant drumbeat of fear porn regarding COVID-19, the media found in the economic re-openings of various states a new boogeyman to focus on.

With a few exceptions, which were unsurprisingly ignored, the states most aggressive in loosening lockdown restrictions were Republican led. It was the perfect situation for a mainstream media desperate to renew the Republicans-bad, Democrats-good template before the November elections.

The fact that there would be a spike in new infections was a given. No one with a brain ever thought that “flattening the curve” would prevent future infections – the medical strategy was to prevent hospital resources from being overrun, which would have turned a bad situation into a medical catastrophe. But the media was geared up and more than ready to crank the panic-generator up to full strength, eagerly anticipating a spiked graph they could plaster on the evening newscasts.

“Arizona’s COVID-19 spread is ‘alarming’ and action is needed, experts warn,” read the title of an Arizona Republic article on Wednesday. Yahoo News breathlessly warned about a “spike” in all the southwestern states.

Headline-only readers, who represent the vast majority of those who consume media (and share it on social media), began feverishly sharing the news. Even some more conservative voices, trained to be skeptical of media narratives, fell for it. But the truth is available for those who dig even just a little bit below the surface.

* Due to the COVID pandemic in the spring, there is now a back-log of so-called “elective surgeries. Those people are now coming to hospitals, thus taking up many beds. Not COVID related.

* All patients who come to the hospital for any reason are tested for COVID. It is logical that some, or even many, may test positive for the virus even without symptoms. They automatically then get labeled a hospitalized COVID case even if that’s not what they are there for.

Last Wednesday, in the middle of the dangerous “spike” the media was frantic about, there was one new COVID hospitalization in Arizona. One. The media patently refuses to focus on COVID deaths – a number that would actually reveal if some dangerous “second wave” was coming to America. Instead they focus on a number they know will never go down – total cases reported – and a number they see as exploitable – total hospitalization.

The truth is that what is happening in Arizona and the Southwest is actually good news for us all. People who are coming to the hospital FOR coronavirus is drastically low, but the number of coronavirus-positive patients in the hospital is high. That means the virus is far more widespread, but is largely asymptomatic and less deadly than believed.

This tweet by my U.S. House rep Andy Biggs (one of the truly good ones!) illustrates the kind of work the mainstream media SHOULD be reporting, but won’t. He doesn’t downplay the existence nor progression of COVID-19 in the US, but he doesn’t breathlessly promote the kind of fear and hysteria the mainstream media is simply because some well-known actor or actress or professional athlete is tested positive (as if their testing positive warrants more hype than the fact that literally tens of thousands of elderly people were systematically condemned to death by New York governor Andrew Cuomo by forcing nursing homes and LTC facilities to accept COVID-19 patients). Wouldn’t you think that would, oh, I don’t know, provide some much-needed perspective on the nature of things?

But as Heck writes in closing, “Just don’t expect that truth to be gracing the evening newscast any time soon.”

…most especially since hyping the Coronavirus will help hide the fact that Democratic-led cities hell-bent on defunding the police are now seeing a spike (my terms) in black-on-black violence.

Who woulda thunk it?

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 21:17 | Comments (0)
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