The media is churning out countless alarmist stories each day about the threat of COVID-19 and the dangers of societal reopening. “Risk of new lockdown rises with fear of second COVID-19 wave,” writes Reuters, as one example of the genre.
These stories generally incite, rather than inform. They cherry-pick facts and lack context. Only when the COVID picture is viewed in perspective are people able to make wise decisions about their actions. It should be safe for society to continue broadly reopening while directing resources to specific at-risk populations, such as nursing homes and prisons, which are more vulnerable.
The media has focused on increasing numbers of positive tests and hospitalizations in parts of the country to imply reopening is reckless.
“Confirmed coronavirus cases have risen by double-digit percentages in 16 U.S. states that have gradually loosened restrictions since Memorial Day,” says Marketwatch.
Yet this perspective omits several essential facts.
First, testing capacity has dramatically increased. The U.S. has tested 3.4 million people over the last week — about 40% more than the weekly numbers one month ago. It’s no surprise that positive cases have increased in some areas along with testing, especially since numerous antibody studies suggest that the disease is far more widespread than initially thought. We are witnessing a new infectious disease, and these case count ebbs and flows are to be expected.
In a country as vast and varied as the U.S., there will likely be COVID hotspots somewhere. Yet focusing on these in national news gives the impression that the country, or even individual states, are in far more danger than in reality. Even with a significant increase in testing, the number of new positive tests nationally has remained flattened as society has reopened.
Topline case counts overlook where outbreaks are occurring. Nearly half of COVID deaths have occurred in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. A sizeable portion of Arizona cases has occurred on Indian reservations. We’d prefer that at-risk populations didn’t bear the brunt of this disease,