Censorship Kills: US Government's Focus On COVID-19 'Messaging' Over Actual Protection Did Real Damage

from the free-speech-saves-lives dept

We've been writing a lot about the need for real transparency in the midst of a pandemic. The lessons to be learned from Taiwan's transparency compared to China's censorship and speech stifling are important. Tragically, it has become abundantly clear that the US is following the path of China, not Taiwan.

We've already covered hospitals trying to silence doctors and nurses from revealing what's actually happening within their hospitals, Jared Kushner hiding his coronavirus task force efforts in a private email account, and the CDC's tragic media gag order for its staff, but it's looking much, much worse.

A bunch of stories came out on Wednesday that more or less show how hard the government is working towards silencing anyone "off message" within the administration. First came a NY Times report that head of the the HHS group working on a COVID-19 vaccine was dismissed from his job for daring to question Trump's weird infatuation with hydroxychloroquine as the "miracle cure" to COVID-19 (which studies now suggest actually may be killing more patients than it's saving). Dr. Rick Bright, who had been the director of the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, released quite a statement about what happened:

“I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the COVID-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit. I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way.

I have spent my entire career in vaccine development, in the government with CDC and BARDA and also in the biotechnology industry. My professional background has prepared me for a moment like this — to confront and defeat a deadly virus that threatens Americans and people around the globe. To this point, I have led the government’s efforts to invest in the best science available to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, this resulted in clashes with H.H.S. political leadership, including criticism for my proactive efforts to invest early into vaccines and supplies critical to saving American lives. I also resisted efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections. Specifically, and contrary to misguided directives, I limited the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, promoted by the administration as a panacea, but which clearly lack scientific merit.

While I am prepared to look at all options and to think ‘outside the box’ for effective treatments, I rightly resisted efforts to provide an unproven drug on demand to the American public. I insisted that these drugs be provided only to hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19 while under the supervision of a physician.

These drugs have potentially serious risks associated with them, including increased mortality observed in some recent studies in patients with COVID-19.

Sidelining me in the middle of this pandemic and placing politics and cronyism ahead of science puts lives at risk and stunts national efforts to safely and effectively address this urgent public health crisis.

I will request that the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services investigate the manner in which this administration has politicized the work of BARDA and has pressured me and other conscientious scientists to fund companies with political connections and efforts that lack scientific merit.

Rushing blindly towards unproven drugs can be disastrous and result in countless more deaths. Science, in service to the health and safety of the American people, must always trump politics.”

But, that's not all. Around the same time that story came out, the Wall Street Journal reported that the administration wanted to fire Nancy Messonnier, the CDC official who had spoken out in February about the likelihood of COVID-19 becoming a global pandemic. Rather than heeding her words, they wanted to fire her (and did appear to gag her from speaking to the media).

On Feb. 25, Nancy Messonnier, a CDC official, said the agency was preparing for a potential pandemic and that community spread of the virus was likely. The stock market plunged.

At a media briefing later that day, Mr. Azar sought to quell concerns, saying the virus was “contained.”

But it was too late. A furious Mr. Trump, flying back to Washington from India, called Mr. Azar and threatened to oust Dr. Messonnier.

The next day, the president announced he was putting Vice President Pence in charge of the federal response—news Mr. Azar learned a few hours before the announcement.

And then, soon after those reports came out, in his daily political rally press conference, the President hauled out CDC director, Robert Redfield, asking him say that the Washington Post misquoted him in its story warning that a second wave of COVID-19 infections could be even more problematic, as it could be timed to coincide with next winter's flu season. Here's what the Washington Post said:

“There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an interview with The Washington Post. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean.”

“We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,” he said.

Trump claimed that Redfield was "totally misquoted" saying that he spoke to Redfield and that Redfield told him "it was ridiculous.":

“I do want to mention, Dr. Robert Redfield was totally misquoted in the media about the fall season and the virus. Totally misquoted. I spoke to him and he said it was ridiculous,” the president said during the daily Coronavirus Task Force briefing at the White House.

“He was talking about the flu and coronavirus coming together at the same time, and we will knock it out. We’ll knock it out fast. That’s what he was referring to, coming together at the same time,” Trump continued.

“I would ask Dr. Redfield to straighten out. He didn’t say it was a big explosion. The headline in the Washington Post was ridiculous, which is, as I say, ‘fake news’ and CNN is fake news, which they knew.”

Except that he then called Redfield up to the podium... and he noted that he had been quoted accurately, but did want to "clarify" his quotes:

"The issue I was talking about being more difficult is that we're going to have two viruses circulating at the same time. This spring we had a benefit of having the flu season ending so we could use all our flu surveillance systems to say this is coronavirus, we need to focus. Next fall and winter, we are going to have two viruses circulating and we are going to have to distinguish between which is flu and which is coronavirus. And so the comment that I made — it's more difficult. It doesn't mean it's impossible, it doesn't mean it's going to be worse. It just means it's more difficult because we have to distinguish between the two."

Which is what the Washington Post article said. Some have argued that Redfield and Trump's complaints are about the Washington Post's headline, which claimed: "CDC director warns second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating" and it appears they're taking issue with the use of the word "devastating." But that seems to be a perfectly reasonable word to sum up what Redfield is saying. Indeed, as many people noted, before Trump threw this little temper tantrum, Redfield himself had retweeted the Washington Post article approvingly, saying nothing about the headline:

So, yet again, all of these stories suggest a similar theme: the President and the administration are -- like the Chinese government -- heavily focused on controlling the message, and making things look rosier than they really are, and not accurately telling the public and the press what is going on. And, once again, that's a very real life or death situation. In times of crisis like this, leadership is the ability to tell the truth, no matter how bad, and put forth a plan of action to deal with the situation and to chart the best path forward while acknowledging the challenges. That's not what this administration is doing. It's trying to silence dissent, and look for any silly scrap of "positive spin" it can find.

And people are dying because of it.

Filed Under: cdc, china, covid-19, donald trump, free speech, hhs, messaging, nancy messonnier, rick bright, robert redfield, silencing, transparency, us


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  1. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 4:00am

    Donald Trump could literally have bodies piled up on the White House grounds and still think he’s doing a great job because the lawn is still green.

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  2. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
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    Godfree (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 4:09am

    Talk about controlling the message: Covid is home-grown

    CNN host Chris Cuomo said he believes there will be revelations showing the novel coronavirus was spreading in the United States as early as October. by Anthony Leonardi | April 17, 2020

    While discussing his wife’s recent coronavirus diagnosis, the network host, who announced he tested positive for COVID-19 in a March 31 social media post, speculated that the virus may have begun spreading as early as fall 2019.

    CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta started by asking, “You and Cristina both have tested positive. You’re both having symptoms. So, maybe I’m missing something, but you guys can’t be together now? … But if you both have it, why can’t you interact now?”

    Cuomo then said officials don’t presently know if someone diagnosed and recovered from COVID-19 could become reinfected. “In the abundance of caution, I could get reinfected, so they want us to stay separated. We do have completely different symptoms, which is, again, part of the weirdness,” he said.

    New York subway train cutback helped spread coronavirus: MIT study
    However, the host speculated that the coronavirus may have been in the U.S. earlier than experts suggest.

    “The kids now anecdotally, Cristina believes, that at least two of them have had it in the last few months. Why? We don’t know, but atypically long-duration sinus, fever, lethargy. I think we’re going to learn that coronavirus has been in this country since, like, October, that there have been cases,” Cuomo said.

    “And as you guys both know, and I hear all the time from all over the country, how many people do you hear saying, ‘I think I had it, I had this and this, I lost my sense of smell and this and that, but I never got tested’? Those cases are, like, abounding all over the country,” he added.

    The novel coronavirus pandemic is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, late last year. The World Health Organization’s investigative report in February concluded that “early cases identified in Wuhan are believed to have acquired infection from a zoonotic source as many reported visiting or working in the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market.”

    The first confirmed case of the coronavirus in the U.S. was reported in Washington state on Jan. 21.

    Reports this week said U.S. officials are increasingly considering the possibility that the outbreak began in a Wuhan laboratory and not in a market.

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/chris-cuomo-predicts-evidence-will-show-coronavirus- was-spreading-in-us-since-october

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  3. identicon
    Bobvious, 23 Apr 2020 @ 4:14am

    Re: the lawn is still green.

    Soylent Green?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Bobvious, 23 Apr 2020 @ 4:16am

    Say no more

    Science, ....... , must always trump politics.”

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    ldd (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 4:17am

    Re:

    He's be gloating that no other president has had so many dead people turn up to hear a president's speech.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Bloof (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 4:36am

    This is what happens when you put someone in a position of power whose only real skill in life is finding others willing to market him. Everything is a marketing exercise, everything is viewed through the media lens, how it would affect his TV ratings, as that's the only thing he's ever cared about aside from money. Anyone who isn't prepared to shill or say inconvenient truths out loud must go to set an example to others, consequences be damned.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Michael, 23 Apr 2020 @ 5:25am

    I'm going to start with saying that I do not agree with the President or the way his administration is handling things.

    Than I am going to go on to agreeing with some of it, but I'll at least try to explain.

    There is something to be said about trying to keep media outlets and government officials from creating panic where there shouldn't be. Someone in a position of knowledge should have the chance to explain what they mean by something being "devastating" and we should be concerned about headlines when a seeming large portion of our population stops reading when the font gets smaller.

    There is also something to be said about the economic impact of the virus causing more deaths than the virus itself at some point, and I think that is a complicated thing to balance. The President and this administration do not seem to handle "complicated" well, but that does not mean all of their decisions are poorly motivated.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Bloof (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 5:51am

    The problem is in a lot if cases, the government are not acting in good faith, they are not doing this to try to prevent panic, they are doing their best to make people afraid to speak out because they are afraid it'll affect his re-election campaign. People needed to be made aware how serious this is, and they downplayed it, and now there are assholes in the streets protesting because they were told it was no worse than the flu.

    There is something to be said about re-opening the economy eventually, not as soon as possible which is what they are going for. They have done nothing to justify giving them the benefit of the doubt over this, nothing about tweeting attacks on Democratic governors for not being willing to endanger lives, or for being angry about his incompetent and partisan handling of the allocation of essential resources says they are doing their best. They've played politics with this since day one, and have gone so far as to screen campaign adverts during press conferences so people's skepticism when it comes to their motives is entirely justified.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    tz1 (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 6:10am

    Re: Re: the lawn is still green.

    Soylent Green New Deal. Pelosi can enjoy her designer ice cream.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Richard M (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 6:13am

    Re: Panic?

    There is a huge difference between creating panic and following the science rather than politics.

    Political leaders who hide the truth from its citizens never do it for the good of those citizens. It is always for the good of the political leaders who are lying and hiding the truth.

    Every single decision Trump has made during this outbreak has been politically motivated rather than what is good for the country. That is poorly motivated and there really is no honest way to spin this as "Trump has been making decisions based on what is good for the country".

    The sad thing is that he has completely miscalculated the political and economic side of things. Nobody (or at least very few) are blaming Trump for the virus coming to America. It is his response that is the problem.

    If instead of trying to downplay, ignore, and hide what was happening he had attacked it like South Korea both the political and economic outcome would have been much better. If we had numbers anything like SK or Germany his approval rating would be extremely high right now compared to what he now has which is low and getting lower.

    However he responded exactly like he would do when running his companies, hiding the bad information as long as he could hoping he would be able to fix the problem before it became public. This is what he has done his whole life though to be fair he is not the only businessman to work this way, he has a lot of company when it comes to that mindset.

    The problem is that this a horrible way to run a country in general and especially one in our current situation. It is the exact opposite of what he should be doing which has killed tens of thousands of people with many more deaths on the way.

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    tz1 (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 6:20am

    Of Course YouTube and Facebook and even Twitter will shadowban or actually ban you for disagreeing with the organization that said there is no evidence of human to human transmission around the time being complained about here. The WHO is also responsible for negligent homicide to a far greater degree, and should be dismantled, not just tax-defunded. But hey, Bill Gates is one of the globalist shills with the rest of Big Tech. There is NO evidence that HClQ kills more than Corona. Ask the Lupus patients. Ask those who took it when going to Africa. What happened to all the complaints about NOT censoring and firing anyone who even slightly dissented from "Climate Change Disaster" science? There were even stronger calls for this over the last decade. And from this side I heard ... Crickets. No worries about the Big Tech Democratic Party Line. We can censor skeptics by calling them "science deniers" when they disagree with the consensus but not when they are shown to be wrong. A second problem is it is fine to express a PERSONAL opinion on personal time with your own credentials, but if you try to say "I work for the CDC and the CDC says (should be saying)...", you should be fired if speaking officially for the CDC isn't your position or job. I'm sure TechDirt wishes to hire people to write hit-pieces on Trump (often for doing the same thing Obama did but far worse, e.g. kids in cages), so if I was hired by TechDirt to write those, and wrote 100% true and accurate stories on the good things Trump has done (and he has), I could expect TechDirt to censor and fire me because they hired me to do something else. At least there will be no reason to visit Glacier NP as there are no glaciers now that it is 2020. Oh, wait!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 6:27am

    Re: Re: Re: the lawn is still green.

    Interesting that you think she is responsible for the mess we now find ourselves in. The pretzel logic must be quite impressive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 6:38am

    Re: Re: Panic?

    The mantra of big business is "socialise the risks, privatise the rewards", and Trump has made quite the career of that. The problem is now that he's at the point of heading into yet another bankruptcy, he can't just file, stiff contractors and con someone else into investing in his next business as per his usual M.O. There are real consequences this time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 6:40am

    Re:

    "creating panic"
    You believe it is the media creating panic? Any examples?

    "Someone in a position of knowledge"
    Strange how these types of people have been removed from key government positions.

    "economic impact of the virus causing more deaths than the virus itself "
    This claim needs well thought out analysis of empirical data from past pandemics, I assume you have a reference to same and I'm also quite sure reading it would be of interest to myself and others ... but there is no such thing is there?

    "The President and this administration do not seem to handle "complicated" well"
    Indeed, as they seem to not understand exponential growth, resource limitations and just how bad it could get.

    "But that does not mean all of their decisions are poorly motivated."
    Yeah .. all of them. I can not think of one thing this administration has done that did not involve personal enrichment of themselves and/or friends and business partners. Note, I consider corrupt business practice to be "poorly motivated".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 6:45am

    Re:

    Your writing skills seem to be at a similar level as your science skills.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    teka, 23 Apr 2020 @ 6:59am

    Re:

    I don't have time to go over everything wrong and thick-headed that 'tz1' is blorping all over the page here. just, wow. I was hoping to see a sarcasm tag at the end to sustain some faith in general civil and informed discourse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 7:13am

    Re:

    Oh look, you're just lying. Shocking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 7:44am

    Re: Re:

    It's like a collage of easily-debunked memes and half-truths spread by the most insular echo chambers. A perfect fractal of wrongness.

    I'm not sure whether to be happy that such people rarely venture into places where the non-willfully-ignorant gather, or to be concerned that there are people among us IRL who have such a tenuous grasp on reality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 7:45am

    Re: Re:

    The scary thing is - he might not be. He might actually have swallowed everything he's been fed by some sub-Infowars scam outfit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    Bloof (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 7:47am

    Re:

    "Trump is good, science is bad, conservatives are the real victims despite dominating most of the western world since the days of the new deal!'

    This is why you shouldn't base your worldview on reddit posts and youtube videos, folks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 7:49am

    The people involved all look like idiots.

    It obviously doesn't have a vaccine. The malaria option would require a specific nontraditional treatment method that isn't immediately obvious or available.

    Looks pretty bad from my pov.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. icon
    Bloof (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 7:54am

    Re: Re: Re: the lawn is still green.

    Kind of hilarious the conservative echo chamber focussing on Nancy Pelosi's fridge to try and paint her as an out of touch elitist while acting like a guy who was a millionaire before puberty thanks to inherited wealth, a man who lives in an honest to god gold plated tower is a man of the people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Rocky, 23 Apr 2020 @ 7:56am

    Re:

    You said:

    There is NO evidence that HClQ kills more than Corona.

    From Yahoo, an article about the study the Department of Veteran Affairs did:

    Department of Veterans Affairs found evidence of what experts have been warning about all along — that the drug may cause more harm than good.

    You said:

    At least there will be no reason to visit Glacier NP as there are no glaciers now that it is 2020. Oh, wait!

    From USGS:

    In Glacier National Park (GNP) some effects of climate change are strikingly clear. Glaciers are melting, and many glaciers have already disappeared. The rapid retreat of these small alpine glaciers reflects changes in recent climate as glaciers respond to altered temperature and precipitation.

    Do you just make shit up as you go? If you where for some godawful reason a writer for any kind of organisation that believes in truth and facts, being fired would be too kind.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. icon
    Thad (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 8:19am

    Re:

    Quiet, Mr. President.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 8:36am

    Re:

    You should see a doctor; diarrhea is supposed to come out the other end.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 8:39am

    Re:

    "The people involved all look like idiots."
    Yes, from Donald all the way down (or up?) to Fox News - the present administration and all its cohorts are acting like idiots and I'm not sure it is an act.

    "It obviously doesn't have a vaccine."
    To what do you refer with use of the word "it" - SARS-CoV-2?
    Of course there is no vaccine at the moment, the virus was previously unknown. You think vaccines simply appear out of nowhere?

    "The malaria option would require a specific nontraditional treatment method that isn't immediately obvious or available."
    Option? Chloroquine is hardly an option now is it. Nontraditional treatment, is that what you call it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Annonymouse, 23 Apr 2020 @ 8:39am

    Re: Say no more

    But as been put forth here example after boneheaded example over the years, this just not to be and never was.
    I dare challenge anyone to find an example of science over politics in the last 20 .. 50 .. ah hell 100 years.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 8:41am

    Nothing New for Anti-Vaxxers

    Nothing New for Anti-Vaxxers

    .

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 8:45am

    Re: Re:

    The best thing about the GNP thing is that it depends on taking in one statement and ignoring everything else.What he presumably means is that he heard / was fed a quote where someone said that it being gone by 2020 was a worst case scenario. Then, either he's incapable of understanding words and he thought that "worst case scenario" means "this will definitely happen", or he's incapable of understanding that positions made by honest intelligent people may evolve based on new information and that the position from 1991 or whenever this was originally quoted may not be the exact position in 2020.

    This may help explain why he's confused and misinformed about the current pandemic, but there's no helping these people when they only exit the echo chamber to mock those who understand the science then dismiss everything before they retreat again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 8:50am

    Re: Re:

    "This is why you shouldn't base your worldview on reddit posts and youtube videos, folks."

    The medium is not as important as evaluating the sources correctly. There are some very good, valuable and truly informative sources on both of those places (or at the very least reddit threads that point you to such), but there are also some very bad sources in other media. "Read the science" can lead to someone being hoodwinked by Andrew Wakefield, "stick to traditional sources" can lead you to Alex Jones, while there some excellent YouTube sources from knowledgeable professionals in the field.

    The problem isn't using those media as sources, the problem is not using anything else and believing what someone has to say just because they worked out how to use iMovie.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 8:55am

    Re: Re: Say no more

    It is hard to extricate scientific achievement from politics, but there are examples of politicians giving scientists a challenge and then using those achievements for their own advantage. To name a couple, the development of the nuclear bomb and the space race, both of which have ancillary consequences both good and bad. I am sure there are many others.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. icon
    nasch (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 9:21am

    Re:

    There is also something to be said about the economic impact of the virus causing more deaths than the virus itself at some point

    The thing to be said about that is that nobody has yet provided any actual evidence that that might happen. Not that I've seen anyway. Do you have any? Like actual numbers based on objective projections.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    Rocky, 23 Apr 2020 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re:

    There's a very strong correlation between a persons income and life expectancy - just search for income affects life expectancy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 10:15am

    Re:

    There is something to be said about trying to keep media outlets and government officials from creating panic where there shouldn't be.

    Yes. But lying to the public is not how you do it.

    True leadership is being transparent about how problematic things are, but explaining how you're dealing with it to minimize the damage and help on the upside. That's how you don't create a panic. You explain the reality, but also the plan to deal with it, while admitting what can go wrong.

    That's not what's happening. Not by a long shot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 10:24am

    'Better that thousands dies than I look bad.'

    The sad thing is that even now there are people so deluded that they will give a pass to Trump and others at the top for caring more about their image than the lives of others, but I suppose some are so lost and/or demented that any amount of deaths are acceptable if it means not having to accept that they have and continue to support a monster.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 10:51am

    Re: Re: Say no more

    The usage of lead in paint, gasoline, etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re:

    They may occasionally [citation needed] make a good decision, but rest assured, it is poorly motivated.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, the well to do can afford healthcare while others not so much. But what does that have to do with the economic impact of the virus across the entire work force?

    The question of virus impact vs econ impact and the measurement criteria set at death. There are way too many variables here and certainly too few equations.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39. icon
    nasch (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 11:52am

    Re: Re: Re:

    There's a very strong correlation between a persons income and life expectancy

    Sure, and that's part of the equation. So you need a projection of how income will drop as a result of closing down the economy, and then from there how many additional deaths we can expect from that. Then you need a projection of how many people will die from the virus if we do not close down the economy. I think I've heard of numbers in the hundreds of thousands for that scenario, and we're already over 30,000. Do you have both numbers?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40. identicon
    Rocky, 23 Apr 2020 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's not all about affording healthcare, but back to the question of what will cause more deaths.

    In general, the difference in life expectancy between poor and rich is ~10-15 years. In the USA ~15% (~50 million) of the population live in poverty, if that number increases due to higher unemployment and lower salaries the average life expectancy will drop (although the correlation isn't linear due to when people go from affluent to poor and vice versa).

    There is some projections pointing to an unemployment rate of 32% (~47 million people affected) but we don't really know for how long the unemployment will last (everything is kind up in the air right now).

    So if ANY of those now affected by the economic downturn dies earlier because of it, that counts. Which means we can have up to 47 million people whose deaths can be attributed to the economy. Although, we also have to balance it against people who actually will live longer for different reasons (like change of lifestyle for economic reasons, ex. taking a bike to work instead of a car)

    Of course, the above is a very simplistic view of it and it doesn't really tell the whole truth but on the face of it the potential early deaths because of it seem to far outstrip the projected deaths due to COVID-19.

    There is a study that explores life expectancy vs income mobility that probably can be used to better determine the numbers of deaths attributed to a economic downturn.

    In the end, until we know more we can't with certainty tell what it'll be.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 12:23pm

    The funny part is if everyone properly followed lockdowns the epidemic would be over. Only reason it spreads is because we know some people will be total morons.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42. identicon
    Rocky, 23 Apr 2020 @ 12:54pm

    Re:

    For it to work almost every living person have to be in lockdown, including a staggering amount of animals of which almost all are wild.

    Although you have a point about the morons, they don't really help curbing the infection rate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43. icon
    Mike Read (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 1:16pm

    Silence the doctors, push an unproven drug, make billions.

    The mindset of these people is fucking disgusting. The virus won't threaten them and theirs, they can isolate in total luxury and buy the best medical attention in the world, so all it represents to them is a business opportunity.

    Who cares if more people die because of a little misinformation? There's money on the table!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44. icon
    ECA (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 1:19pm

    DEPTS.

    Why is it that we have departments that are not supposed to be political, They are supposed to be balanced and fair and Just do their jobs with Little to no intervention..
    ANd THEN politics comes up and tries to change/deny/subvert the Whole idea of these dept's.

    Its been said along time,t hat the Gov. is to big, and Yep, the gov. cut and cut and cut, and now who is in change? And dont get me going on the WHO(world health org. Idiots).
    So where are all these Dept's that should be doing things, we needed in the past, and if its still around, WHY in hell is a corp stooge in charge of it??

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45. icon
    nasch (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So if ANY of those now affected by the economic downturn dies earlier because of it, that counts. Which means we can have up to 47 million people whose deaths can be attributed to the economy.

    A better measure would be years of life lost. How much earlier might those people die? What effect is seen if unemployment lasts a few months or a year and then they're back on their feet? What economic effects will there be if the health system collapses because we stop taking effective steps to slow the spread of the virus? Anyone dying early due to those has to be taken into account. How many people will die from other causes due to not being able to receive medical care from an overburdened health care system? Those have to count too.

    We'd better be pretty sure of these numbers before opening up the economy without adequate testing and contact tracing, because we know for sure the death toll in that case will be quite high.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 2:31pm

    Re: Re:

    Infected wild animals are coughing in my face in my house? Good to know.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 3:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I was primarily responding to the claim that -
    "the economic impact of the virus causing more deaths than the virus itself "
    To be nice, this claim is a stretch.

    How might the economic impact cause death? I can dream up post apocalyptic scenarios where crime runs rampant thru the streets but is that attributable to the virus?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 3:10pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Since we are still discovering how this virus operates .......

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49. identicon
    Rocky, 23 Apr 2020 @ 3:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    How might the economic impact cause death?

    Bad economy -> less available jobs -> more unemployed people -> unemployed people have no wage -> they become poor.

    Living in poverty means your health will deteriorate faster, which means more people will die earlier than they would have before they became poor - ie bad economy causes more people to die before their time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50. identicon
    Rocky, 23 Apr 2020 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, but an infected bird shat on your patio and your dog sniffed the shit, then he went into your living room, jumped up at sat in your lap licking your face to show what good little doggie he is....

    Get it now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51. identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 23 Apr 2020 @ 3:34pm

    #ButButHillary

    n/t

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 3:58pm

    To be fair to the president, he was being serious...

    The COVID 19 outbreak is no worse than the flu, he just left out the part about referencing the flu of 1918, I mean this 'shouldn't' be any worse than that flu.

    So what's all the complaining about, when this is over the robber barons will be able to enslave the populace who will be willing to do ANYTHING to get a job at that point...

    Or I could be mixing up the Mad Max pandemic pilot project...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 5:07pm

    Re:

    That would include all of the people who work at grocery stores and hospitals. So your "would be over" would come at a cost of many thousands of lives, those already sick and left to recover or die on their own as well as those without a prepper's pantry.

    Dumb idea. Might even say it is totally moronic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    tz1 (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 5:43pm

    Repeating #FakeNews also kills

    Quod Erat Demonstratum: https://pjmedia.com/trending/fake-news-trump-didnt-fire-vaccine-chief-for-questioni ng-hydroxychloroquine/ Stop drinking the aquarium cleaner flavored kool-aid. Maybe then you would have time to cover Michael Moore's new documentary about the brown side of green energy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 5:44pm

    Re: Re:

    Lets see 20 million plus people unemployed .
    Manufacturing grinding to halt .
    Our food supply being plowed back into the ground .
    Where do you think things come from ?
    A star Trek replicator ?
    By the time you realize your wrong it will be too late ,
    Without a functioning economy we have no Society .
    The wheels of the bus are being held on by loose lug nuts and
    we're close to them falling off . That happens the bus doesn't
    recover it crashes .
    So people put on your man pants and face reality .
    Life is risky .
    Staying locked up is basically preparing to die
    Last I checked no one gets out of here alive
    It just depends on how you want to get there
    Cowering in fear waiting for someone who will never come to save you
    Or Face life head on and power on .
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2020 @ 6:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, but is that attributable to the virus or is it the crappy economic system? Is the virus killing us or is it our government?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57. icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 7:23pm

    Re: Repeating #FakeNews also kills

    You're telling people to stop drinking kool aid while linking to frigging PJ Media? Wow...

    At least we know you're just another nutter who's bought into naked propaganda and outright fiction, rather than just pretending as some suspected with your previous post.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 8:30pm

    And now you're even showing up in non-chinese centric articles with your propaganda, you really want those fifty cents I see.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 23 Apr 2020 @ 11:56pm

    Re:

    Well, the story mentions Chinese censorship, so I guess he feels he needs to.

    I am curious if Godfree was "assigned" to monitor and post on all Techdirt stories mentioning China, or if just goes around searching for such stories to post on. But it's now becoming like clockwork if a story mentions China, Godfree will be along, posting via a known proxy service based in Asia, to comment with Chinese government talking points.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60. identicon
    Rocky, 24 Apr 2020 @ 3:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You are asking the wrong question, it's not about who or what directly kills you.

    The question should be based on if X, how much do that affect a persons life expectancy? for the simple reason that everything in life affects the life expectancy.

    And if a certain event or action significantly changes the expectancy negatively we can then attribute that as the main cause of death.

    Btw, for those interested in how different things affect life expectancy in general - look up what a micromort is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Apr 2020 @ 5:39am

    Re: Re:

    Do you think someone should tell him that astroturfing achieves only the opposite result when said astroturfer becomes identified as such?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Apr 2020 @ 5:45am

    Re: Re:

    "The thing to be said about that is that nobody has yet provided any actual evidence that that might happen."

    It's fairly self-evident. In the US, thanks to the state of what passes for a social security net there, ten million unemployed might as well be written ten million new homeless.
    After that it's just a case of finding the statistics over dead homeless and see if it matches the expected deaths generated by covid.

    Since few politicians in the US gives much of a fsck about dead homeless people the fact covid kills homeless people as well becomes irrelevant.

    I wouldn't be surprised if that's the sort of calculation Trump's cabinet came up with.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Apr 2020 @ 5:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "To be nice, this claim is a stretch."

    In the US?

    I'm inclined to think the claim is correct, but mainly because I'm fairly convinced that suddenly becoming unemployed in the US can very easily be a death sentence when your house is suddenly repossessed over not meeting the monthly mortgage, your kids no longer go to school, your family lives in an overturned dumpster in the nearest landfill shanty town and your health plan got canned alongside your job.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Apr 2020 @ 5:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    A bit like asking, when you fall off a tall cliff; was the cause of death the sudden wind which pushed you off, or because you landed in the pond full of hungry crocodiles kept there by your unscrupulous landlord?

    You can't do very much about the wind, but you could ask the landlord to not keep his damn pokemon godzillas where people could fall on top of them.

    The virus may kill but it certainly is for the government to ensure unemployment isn't deadly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Apr 2020 @ 6:04am

    Re: Re:

    " I was hoping to see a sarcasm tag at the end to sustain some faith in general civil and informed discourse."

    Sadly the avid trump defenders don't do either "civil" nor "informed" very well. what you see from tz1 is what they usually have on offer - a wordsalad which has everyone, from the WHO to Bill Gates and Big Tech actively trying to kill everyone, because, apparently, the hate of America The Great which Google, WHO and Bill Gates hold is more intense than their love for their own lives.

    It is, apparently, the current state of hardline republicans today.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 24 Apr 2020 @ 6:11am

    Re: Re:

    "...including a staggering amount of animals of which almost all are wild."

    It's still unknown to which degree wild animals and pets may infect humans. So far we're clear that there is a danger with bats and pangolins.

    But yes, a lockdown will slow, not stop dispersion. What we are currently doing is buying time - for health services not to get swamped and to minimize the death toll before we have some form of cure, mitigation, or at best a vaccine available.

    In the end, a few years down the line, we'll all have acquired covid one way or the other. But there's a world of difference between being one of those who get actual treatment because the number of patients in one go is possible to handle, or being someone who gets told to stay at home and ride it out because every hospital is overwhelmed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2020 @ 6:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Life expectancy, in the us, was on a downward trend before the corona virus appeared. Studies have attributed much of this on our failed healthcare system and our failed economic system. Both of these have failed the poor and will continue to do so I guess.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 24 Apr 2020 @ 6:27am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If they haven't figured it out by now, with multiple people calling them out for posting laughably obvious propaganda, I'm not sure if they ever will.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2020 @ 6:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "The virus may kill but it certainly is for the government to ensure unemployment isn't deadly."

    Succinct and to the point - I like it.

    On a side note, it is not the fall that kills you - it is the rapid deceleration trauma.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2020 @ 6:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, but that would happen with or without the virus being public enemy number one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71. identicon
    Rocky, 24 Apr 2020 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The animal angle is troublesome to get a grip on, we know that some animals are susceptible but are they also a transmission vector? Heck, we have hardly begun to understand how some people doesn't seem to be very infectious vs people who are.

    Until that question is answered, a total lockdown to stop the spread is kind of futile - we can only take measures in an effort to slow the spread and come up with better treatments until the day an effective vaccine is available.

    From an intellectual viewpoint, this is all very interesting but the cold, hard numbers that we will have when this is all over will make many people quail.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2020 @ 8:38am

    It's a good thing we have a very stable genius at the helm.

    I wonder which disinfectant he has investments in.

    We have the best disinfectants - no one has better disinfectants that we do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73. icon
    PaulT (profile), 24 Apr 2020 @ 9:13am

    Re:

    Ones you can inject any time you want apparently!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74. identicon
    Glenn, 24 Apr 2020 @ 9:26am

    Hey.. as long as Wall Street is happy [with Trump].

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2020 @ 9:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Of course, the above is a very simplistic view of it and it doesn't really tell the whole truth

    It does not make a lot of sense either, because death due to covid-19 is an immediate problem, while the life shortening effects of poverty are due to cumulative effects over a long time. A few months or even years of poverty will not have the same outcomes of a lifetime of poverty

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Apr 2020 @ 9:40am

    Re:

    Or UV light manufacturer.

    As they say, 'A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing' and Trump is exhibit one of the truth of that statement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 25 Apr 2020 @ 6:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm glad to live here on Earth. There seems to be no sign of intelligent like whatever planet you're on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  78. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 28 Apr 2020 @ 5:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "If they haven't figured it out by now, with multiple people calling them out for posting laughably obvious propaganda..."

    True enough.

    You'd think at some point someone would inform China's leadership that any attempt to deny the obvious only makes them look daft and incompetent in addition to looking malicious and they'd be better served by being a bit more upfront - or at least pretend not to hear the questions asked.

    Darth Vader at least gets respect, Jar Jar Binks, not so much.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  79. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 28 Apr 2020 @ 5:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Say no more

    "The usage of lead in paint, gasoline, etc."

    Lamentably, the mounting death toll always comes before politicians suddenly find the scientist who'd been screaming in the background for a while was actually worth listening to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 28 Apr 2020 @ 5:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "On a side note, it is not the fall that kills you - it is the rapid deceleration trauma."

    Hence the need for a safety net to properly disperse the deceleration to survivable proportions.

    Or, to draw the analogy further, a parachute. An instrument in plentiful use for any senior corporate executive to become similarly suddenly accelerated by way of metaphorical defenestration.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  81. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 28 Apr 2020 @ 6:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Yes, but that would happen with or without the virus being public enemy number one."

    Well, yes, but without SARS-CoV-2 making the rounds the economy wouldn't be in the state where multiple millions became unemployed in a hurry.

    In the US the equation becomes "Unemployed == Homeless" effective almost immediately.
    In the EU there's often a far longer buffer between getting sacked and getting to the point where you don't have a home and can't feed your children. Not to mention that in the US you are screwed without a health plan, really.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  82. icon
    PaulT (profile), 28 Apr 2020 @ 6:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    On the other hand, the US president is feeding his people suggestions to inject bleach, and the thing he thought would save face was to claim that he was using sarcastic humour during his daily updates on the death toll of his own people, after he dismantled all the safeguards his predecessors put in place for this exact situation.

    Maybe they realise they can't look worse than the opposition, so don't care about how they look to everybody else?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  83. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 28 Apr 2020 @ 6:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "A few months or even years of poverty will not have the same outcomes of a lifetime of poverty"

    In the US, that month may indeed wreck you for life.

    Once you fail to make your first mortgage, or god forbid, have to send yourself or the kids to a doctor without a health plan, you will be carrying a debt for a great many years which you, once you have employment again, might not ever be able to pay off. Consider that even a minor ailment or broken leg might net you a bill of 3-5k USD without that health plan your employer gave you.

    In the US a few months of poverty WILL make you poor for life barring a great deal of luck. That's basically how it works.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  84. icon
    nasch (profile), 28 Apr 2020 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    In the US the equation becomes "Unemployed == Homeless" effective almost immediately.

    That's really a huge exaggeration. Perhaps you're doing so on purpose for effect, but just wanted to point that out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  85. icon
    nasch (profile), 28 Apr 2020 @ 8:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    the thing he thought would save face was to claim that he was using sarcastic humour during his daily updates on the death toll of his own people

    The distressing thing is it probably worked. His base probably ate it up. "Yeah, he sure showed those dumb reporters with that sarcastic question! I bet they feel stupid now! GO TRUMP!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  86. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 May 2020 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Re:

    actually a study done in 1980 proves that. for ervery 1 point drop in unemployment, 10,000 people die. you can probably double that figure now since it was so long ago.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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