The coronavirus fake news cycle

This, from the Babylon Bee, captures the corporate media and Washington DC chattering class in one image:

Nothing is funnier to me these days than how newspapers are trying to hype up a non-existent coronavirus outbreak in Florida. This chap put together a chart of emergency room visits in Palm Beach County along with headlines from the Sun Sentinel. You will notice how as emergency room visits decline, the headlines become more hysterical and conspiratorial. This is the same paper who endorsed the disgraced sheriff from the MSD school massacre for another term.

For all of the hysterical narratives about coronavirus deaths in Florida, you are looking at the state losing 2.5% of its long-term care population so far this year. And this is only if you are willing to assume that it was really a cold virus that did them in, and not several other serious conditions, which is why they need full-time medical care in the first place. I would love to know what a typical year for long-term care deaths would look like, to be honest, but I imagine it looks pretty similar to this one.

The hysterical headlines make for great fun watching stock trading too. The idiots at the Florida Department of Health – who have previously counted dying in a motorcycle accident and being struck by lightning while replacing the roof on an apartment complex as coronavirus deaths – released data suggesting there were 2,256 coronavirus hospitalizations in Lee County (home of Ft. Myers, where we are planning to move). This caused a fat finger stock plunge in airline stocks, before it was revised down to 149 cumulatively. God, I love algorithmic traders who pick asinine inputs.

My personal favorite news cycle lately, however, is how understanding the actual, physical mechanics of the immune system now makes you a Republican, which clearly means you should not be trusted:

Wait? You mean this is not some super special virus that defies all scientific knowledge like Fauci suggested, and that merely encountering it in the wild means your body learns how to deal with it and expel it? Next you are going to tell me that hiding in your house, slathering yourself in poison, and collecting your spit in a mask for several hours a day is a poor way to manage public health, when you could just have your population build herd immunity as with every other plague in the history of mankind.

It is a real problem that the loudest people in this country are also the dumbest, least-informed, most prone to living in social bubbles, who are so obsessed with politics and identity that they think partisans have different opinions on cell function. Eventually this country is going to have a crisis that is not completely manufactured, and getting accurate information to people is going to matter. But beyond that, long-term consumption of corporate media output is turning into a bona fide mental illness now. You’ve got people who have been living on a steady diet of fake news for several years now, and their brains truly are broken. The sheer volume of nonsensical and outright false things they believe and have built upon is right up there with the paranoid fantasies of deeply troubled individuals. It would be an interesting public health concern how to detoxify folks’ brains so they can be normal, productive citizens again.

4 thoughts on “The coronavirus fake news cycle

  1. The CDC has this dashboard of excess deaths:
    https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/excess_deaths.htm

    I didn’t see a breakdown for nursing homes, but you can select by age.
    To summarize, there have been more excess deaths than those attributed to COVID. It’s possible COVID deaths have been under-counted. More likely there have been deaths that should be attributed to the lockdown, rather than the virus itself — suicide, accidents, delayed medical care, etc. You’ve said this in the past, and I have to agree.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, you have been a roll the past few days, it has been hard to keep up with all the good posts. I have been suffering the past few days with articles popping up in various news feeds about how Georgia is currently the worst place to be in the US right now for coronavirus infection and the state needs and immediate state-wide lockdown. This is bogus. I follow the data on the GPH website every day and also a web site where a pretty good analysis is done each day on the trend in positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The conclusions of these various “experts” at places like Harvard and the news media are not supported by the data.

    – The 7-day moving average of positive cases peaked on July 11th and through Aug 5 had fallen by 45%, with the number of cases declining each week.
    – Hospitalizations (FOR Covid or WITH Covid, or simply under investigation) peaked on July 21 and as of yesterday or down 25%
    – The number of daily deaths (plotted by “day of death”, not “day reported”, which is significant) has already peaked and is falling and should continued to fall due to the leading values of cases and hospitalizations fall
    – Though there are some remaining hotspots, on a statewide basis hospitals are not stressed.
    – The value of R(t), the effective re-transmission rate, for GA fell below 1.0 on July 2 and has remained below 1.0 ever since.

    But you would never know this from reading the media. Despite the increase in cases, which started in June and is now in decline, the deaths/100K in GA are still just 1/4 those of NY. But GA is a “disaster.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. See, I think *most* people fully understand this. But the ones who are holed up in their houses for months watching cable news all day are intellectually poisoned. It’s probably 20% of our society right now.

      Liked by 1 person

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