As coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues to spread throughout the U.S. and the world, the people on this planet have sequestered themselves into three separate groups:
- people who have COVID-19,
- people who are paying attention to data from epidemiologists and other authorities on infectious diseases,
- and people who take medical advice from anti-vaxxers and histrionic money market journalists.
Reliable information abounds if people can stand to listen to or read facts that have not been marinated in the caustic sauce of apocalyptic infotainment.
Good local information
Last weekend, U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn held her third town hall since the beginning of the year in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, convening local experts on health care and addressing public concerns over COVID-19.
As reported by Free Press, it was a largely apolitical town hall designed to inform citizens of facts and available services, and the MAGA crowds stayed away.
At that meeting and in recent news stories, Oklahoma City-County Health Department epidemiologist Eddie Withers has asked residents to trust only reliable sources when it comes to informing themselves about the spread of COVID-19 and measures that can be taken to protect themselves.
For instance, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, updates statistics surrounding COVID-19 three times a day. As of 5:17 p.m. CDT March 10, there are fewer than five cases identified in Oklahoma.
This does not mean COVID-19 is a myth or a political stunt; it just means that 1) it is still early, and as longtime National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a March 10 White House briefing, incidence of the disease is increasing and will continue to do so in the short term; and 2) well-informed responses and behaviors can help keep the numbers low.
OpinionFrom George Lang, our lead opinion columnist
One of the more odious claims currently made online is that zinc can be effective against the disease. According to Withers, zinc can be an effective supplement during the cold season, but it will not kill the virus. Go farther down the information food chain and former comedian and anti-vaccination icon Rob Schneider is tweeting, “TAKE VITAMIN C EVERYONE!!!”
Like zinc, Vitamin C will not kill viruses. Nor will Silver Solution, the latest scheme being sold by disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker to his End Times fan base. In his dotage, Bakker has taken to selling five-gallon buckets of freeze-dried food, perfect for all your race war/pandemic/zombie apocalypse needs.
According to Bakker, a product called Silver Solutions that he hawked on a Feb. 12 episode of his self-described online “prophecy and end times” program can stop COVID-19 dead in its tracks. His claims about his colloidal silver suspension liquid led the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission to send a cease and desist letter to Bakker.
On March 10, Missouri’s Republican Attorney General, Eric Schmitt, filed suit against Bakker and his Morningside Church Productions for the Feb. 12 claims.
Meanwhile, the Mayo Clinic has an entry on its website saying that “colloidal silver isn’t considered safe or effective for any of the health claims manufacturers make. Silver has no known purpose in the body. Nor is it an essential mineral, as some sellers of silver products claim.”
Reasonable people will ask, “Why is Lang quoting longtime residents of the fever swamps?” I do so because actual professional journalists can be far worse than the “makin’ copies” guy and Tammy Faye Bakker’s ex-husband.
As an example, take Fox Business Channel anchor Trish Regan’s bizarre March 9 rant claiming that COVID-19 is just another attempt by Democrats to impeach President Donald Trump.
“The chorus of hate being leveled at the President is nearing a crescendo as Democrats blame him — and only him — for a virus that originated halfway around the world!” Regan bloviated. “This is yet another attempt to impeach the president, and sadly it seems they care very little for any of the destruction they are leaving in their wake — losses in the stock market. This is impeachment all over again.”
I have not yet heard anyone blame Trump for COVID-19, as he is not widely known for singlehandedly creating biological weapons. It is fair game to blame Trump for downplaying concern surrounding COVID-19, because he did just that.
“So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu (sic),” Trump wrote in a March 9 tweet. “It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”
Yeah, think about that. Nearly two-dozen deaths? Apparently, Trump is OK with that number.
Then there is Rick Santelli, the CNBC editor and the Punxsutawney Phil of chaos agents. In 2009, Santelli threw an on-camera fit about the Homeowners Affordability and Stability Act, decrying a program designed to help homeowners who fell prey to adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM), calling such homeowners “losers” and for there to be a “Chicago tea party,” thereby lighting the fuse for the Tea Party movement.
This time out, on March 5, he said we should all be infected with COVID-19 at once to save the stock market.
“Now I’m not saying this is the generic-type flu,” Santelli said. “But maybe we’d be just better off if we gave it to everybody, and then in a month it would be over because the mortality rate of this probably isn’t going to be any different if we did it that way than the long-term picture, but the difference is we’re wreaking havoc on global and domestic economies.”
As MarketWatch reported the next day, if all 329 million Americans were exposed to COVID-19, then 11 million people would die based on the World Health Organization’s report of 3.4 percent mortality rate.
Even if the number is more conservative, like New England Journal of Medicine’s 1.4 percent, 4.6 million people would die. I do not know if Santelli has explored the effect that widespread death would have on the markets, but hey, anything for the pork bellies, right?
Regardless of Santelli’s whining about stocks and commodities, there are people of conscience and reason who, given the possible outcome of bringing a large crowd together, are leaving money on the table for the sake of public safety.
If things are bad enough that Pearl Jam canceled its April 6 concert at Chesapeake Energy Arena, South By Southwest canceled this year’s convention in Austin and local universities are weighing moving classes online, many people and organizations are operating at high levels of caution.
People seeking truth should look to reliable media and medical science. The snake oil will not cure COVID-19 and the charlatans do not care about your fate.
In the meantime, wash your hands, avoid crowds and be wary of D-list celebrities, cast-out preachers and journalists who care more about the economy than they do your health.
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