Amidst the frenzy surrounding the fear of coronavirus, you may have the strange impression you have seen this movie before.
As universities cancel classes, sporting events are canceled or closed to spectators, companies tell workers to stay home, shoppers mob stores to stock up on items and governments at every level take drastic measures claimed to prevent the spread of the virus, something important is missing: Facts.
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"COVID-19" (shorthand for coronavirus disease 2019) is a strain of coronavirus, a known infectious disease. While the number of Americans having died from complications brought on by COVID-19 is extremely small, the total number of the population infected with the virus is unknown. Without testing to determine a statistical approximation of the number of people with the virus, any guesses about the mortality rate, recovery rate or level of infection is speculation.
The Great Coronavirus Panic of 2020 is being breathlessly stoked by Democrats and major media. They are using the panic they themselves induce to attack President Trump, claiming he has failed to adequately address the disease. Where the president has acted, those measures are criticized by Democrats and the media. His request for money was criticized as too little and his travel bans are prompting liberal outrage as xenophobic and too extreme. The left has positioned themselves to collect political dividends no matter what happens with the coronavirus. If the virus becomes a major public health disaster, Democrats can attack the president as incompetent and play see-I-told-you-so. If it amounts to nothing, as many believe it will, Democrats will claim credit for forcing the president to act. In any event, the circumstances are being pushed with few facts to support the draconian measures being taken.
Even before President Trump was inaugurated, Democrats and the media began a steady drumbeat of accusations of "Russian collusion." Liberals increased the pressure until Washington was in a frenzy, the attorney general of the United States recused himself under withering criticism from Democrats, a special counsel and a team of attorneys was assembled, and Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill began announcing their retirements en masse on the expectation President Trump would be prosecuted and driven out of office. Journalists and commentators on broadcast and cable news shows, in newspapers and on social media spent more than two years predicting the imminent indictment of the president. Many gleefully discussed the commander in chief being perp-walked out of the White House and possibly jailed. Anonymous sources were constantly quoted, and journalists made predictions based on "bombshell" reports from unnamed sources close to the investigation. In the middle of this tempest, the most important part was missing: Facts.
After spending millions of dollars and two years investigating every rumor and every possibility that Donald Trump somehow colluded with Russia, the Mueller investigation ended with a whimper. The Mueller report, along with his House testimony, contained none of the crimes Democrats and media had promised and hyped around the clock for years. At the end of the day, the entire Russian collusion panic was all bluster and no facts.
Just as with the Russian collusion hoax, the level of hyperbole and hysteria surrounding the coronavirus panic is masking a lack of specific details that should give pause to those leading the organizations, universities, companies and governments shutting down activity. And it is impossible not to notice those advocating the loudest for the most extreme measures at every level of society have been the most vocal critics of the president. Just as with the legend of Russian collusion, liberal political professionals and members of the media gleefully parse and predict the bounty to be gained by Democrats and the political damage to President Trump as a result of coronavirus and its impact on the economy.
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A friend noted on a walk through his town this week that bars and restaurants are all as crowded as ever. He remarked that it seemed like there are two completely different worlds. In one world everything is, more or less, normal, and people are going about their lives. In the world portrayed in the media, our leaders are racing to podiums to make drastic announcements about extreme measures to stop a disease which, so far, kills about the same number of Americans as lightning strikes. In our hyper-charged, late-breaking, 24-hour news cycle, it is obviously too much to ask for major media not to stoke panic for political gain. But we should expect our leaders to be level-headed and make rational decisions based on facts and not allow themselves to be swept up in mass hysteria just because everyone else is doing it.