Everyone reading this knows my personal and professional animosity for Rachel Maddow of MSNBC. She seldom delivers the truth to her tiny audience, is the “shock-jock” for her television network, who always relies on some sensational “Uh-Oh!” to stimulate her fans. Who can forget that famous expose’ she gave to America by revealing one year of President Trump’s tax returns that mysteriously appeared in her mailbox. She built the expectation of blockbuster news the entire day. When she finally shared her terrible news, it seemed that President Trump paid “only” $15 million in federal taxes that year. Woe! Throw him in jail!
In the current uproar in D.C., Maddow finds herself lacking in relativity to today’s big news stories. “What to do?” Hmmm, how about another blockbuster, “Gotcha!” Her latest attempt to crawl back into being relative in the news is about Coronavirus. Why not? With RBG’s death, the holocaust of rioting, looting, and election hoopla, just flip the calendar pages back 30-days or so and find yourself another conspiracy. And that she has done.
What is her blockbuster? President Trump’s new COVID-19 strategy is to simply allow herd immunity, which enables the virus to run its course while in doing so, killing millions of Americans as we “hope” in doing so most Americans will develop a natural immunity to the disease. And to show us just how great a travesty for the President to don’t that strategy, she gave us some “shock-jock” data.
The President’s “new” position on treating the virus (according to Maddow) will result in millions upon millions of deaths throughout the country! Never mind this in NO way is part of what the CDC or the White House has shown to be a process that they have or will initiate to fight COVID-19. How in the world did Maddow even find herself in possession of those numbers?
To arrive at those death numbers, Maddow took the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in the U.S. (what she claimed was just over 6.6 million) and compared it to the number of recorded deaths from the virus (around 200,000), concluding that the death rate from the disease was 2.9% and that pursuing a herd immunity strategy countrywide would thus result in multiple millions of American deaths before the virus would burn out.
“That would be what [President Trump] is aiming for,” Maddow said.
Here’s Rachel Maddow making her case directly to her viewers a few days ago after the President mentioned that “while” we are completing the aggressive development, testing, and getting an approved vaccine to the marketplace, we look at what has already developed in multiple countries around the world, “herd immunity.” She takes the President’s words and takes off on a trip to Planet Krypton:
Can you believe the insulting insinuation that runs throughout Maddow’s presentation? She states plainly in her closing that continuing the already aggressive and historic push to get a vaccine for COVID-19 to the marketplace is simply “too hard for this president.”
Let’s put that to the side for a moment and examine Maddow’s data and conclusions:
Strictly speaking, Maddow’s math is correct, but the numbers she’s using to make those calculations are, at least by the measure of earlier expert analysis, wildly off-base, or in TruthNewsNetwork-speak, “insane!”
The U.S. has indeed recorded well over six million COVID-19 cases (the website Worldometers puts it at slightly more than Maddow’s 6.6 million estimate, at just under 7 million). Comparing the number of recorded U.S. deaths to those cases will get you Maddow’s high death rate of around 2.9%.
But only counting the number of confirmed cases isn’t how virologists and public health officials calculate the total caseload of a pandemic disease. Instead, they use various tools — including serology tests, hospital data, and epidemiological projections — to estimate how widespread a virus is within society.
For instance, that’s how the CDC calculates the severity of influenza seasons in the country. “Because influenza surveillance does not capture all cases of flu that occur in the U.S., CDC provides [estimated] ranges to reflect the larger burden of influenza better,” the CDC says on its website.
Public health officials have made similar projections with COVID-19. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in July estimated “six to 24 times more infections” than had been recorded by public health officials in the U.S. at the time. And remember: “cases,” which is the word used by ALL media in reporting those tested positive for COVID-19, is an incorrect medical term. Testing positive for the virus is simply, in medical terms, called an “infection.” Cases are only confirmed when a patient becomes symptomatic and begins to require medical treatment. Those are two VERY different things that, if factored into the “official” COVID-19 numbers, would dramatically REDUCE the number of actual COVID cases in the nation. “Infected” and “Symptomatic” are vastly different in number. But classifying every infection as a case gives those anxious to petrify Americans with fear ammunition with which they can (and have) used against us all.
Several estimates of total COVID numbers throughout the country have been put forth throughout the pandemic in the U.S., with most of them falling more or less within the range of CDC Director Robert Redfield’s estimate in July that “for every case that’s reported, there are ten other infections.” (there’s that word “case” again, instead of using “infections”)
It is unclear if Maddow is aware of those estimates. Applying Redfield’s figure to current confirmed U.S. coronavirus infections would put the United States at close to 70,000,000 infections since the pandemic began in this country. Assuming the death toll is roughly accurate, then the national death rate of the disease in the U.S. would hover around 0.28%, or approximately ten times lower than Maddow’s claims.
Maddow stated that a minimum of 65% of the U.S., or about 215,000,000 citizens, would likely need to contract the disease for herd immunity to kick in. Applying an 0.28% death rate to that number of infections still produces a shockingly high number — a little over 600,000 deaths.
Yet that estimate also fails to account for the belief among some scientists that most of the population may have some degree of preexisting immunity to COVID-19, meaning much less than 65% of the people might have to become infected by the coronavirus before the disease begins to burn out.
The actual number of infections of COVID-19 throughout the United States may never be known; we also cannot yet say how much of the population is at least partially immune to the virus.
But Maddow’s approach to epidemiological analysis — in which she implicitly assumes that a disease’s spread is fully captured by merely the number of confirmed cases of it — is significantly divergent from that which is practiced by epidemiologists and other public health authorities.
I can only surmise ONE explanation for Rachel Maddow’s creating this faux horror story so that she can attempt to make herself and her failing show relevant during the current political “Scamdemic” in which we find ourselves. Consistently throughout her career at MSNBC, Maddow finds herself riding a rollercoaster of success and struggling to rescue her dwindling audience numbers based on the “conspiracy wind of the day.” Maybe she missed it: today’s conspiracy in D.C. is President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell throwing all reason and historical perspective regarding replacing a Supreme Court Justice to the wind! And she has NOTHING new to add to that conversation.
I will end by repeating something a former employee said to me in an office full of fellow employees when I reacted to some comment a person made with a funny quip that was innocent in my intent and its substance. But, somehow, it struck her the wrong way. She looked at me and said in a gentle and normal tone: “Dan, go lay down by your bowl!”
I think that might be an appropriate response to Maddow regarding this rush for relevance and struggle for ratings. But I won’t say it to her. You just think about it!