Medical Experts Say Right-Wing Pundits Are Endangering Lives With Coronavirus Rhetoric
Political commentators on the right side of the aisle seem to have one job and one job only: To make Donald Trump look good, regardless of the consequences.
This even includes when we are in the throes of a global pandemic.
On such pundit is Daily Wire editor Ben Shapiro, who is part of the chorus of voices desperate to downplay the threat, seriousness, and death toll of COVID-19.
Shapiro wrote in the Jewish Journal:
“There are likely far more coronavirus cases than have been diagnosed: Coronavirus can be diagnosed only through testing.
“But a huge number of cases are mild, and thus don’t drive people to hospitals for testing. Furthermore, particularly in the United States, testing has been utterly insufficient. This means that there are probably thousands of cases of undiagnosed coronavirus. But the death toll from coronavirus is likely highly accurate — after all, there are corpses. We calculate death rates by dividing the number of deaths by the number of cases diagnosed. This means that if the denominator is being understated, the death rates are overstated.”
Shapiro is doing what every other right-winger who has a platform is doing: He’s trying to downplay the severity of this crisis with the intent of absolving the Trump Administration of any responsibility for what is happening. This dangerous misinformation campaign has not gone unnoticed by medical experts, either.
Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA), who also happens to be a pediatrician, is incensed at what Shapiro is feeding his audience. She said:
“He is right on the math; however, he is wrong on the conclusion. Whether [the death rate] is 3% overall or 0.3% overall, the fact is that there is a segment of our population, 20% of our population, who can get this very badly and require hospital care. And so it is entirely possible that there’s a lot of asymptomatic people walking around out there including children. I mean, why would we ever think that children are not getting infected with this even though they’re not getting symptoms?”
Rep. Schrier is correct. Further, to feed misinformation to the confused and conspiratorial masses is especially dangerous at such a time, particularly when it can make people believe that going out and about, as usual, is safe for them and their communities.
Rep. Schrier’s comments went on:
“I have seen some suggestions that in the five days prior to showing symptoms, people are shedding virus and highly contagious. We don’t know this yet. Testing and science will have to bear this out. But if that is the case, this virus can spread insidiously through our communities without our knowing it.”
Chemist Shaugnessy Naughton said of the propaganda campaign coming from the right:
“That probably is music to Donald Trump’s ears. ‘If we don’t test people, then we don’t have to count them.’ Um, yes, that is the problem. But the problem with not testing, it’s not so much the number, it’s where people are and to get in front of the impending overwhelming of our health system. So what he said is not incorrect, but it negates looking at the bigger picture of what the implications are when really a lot more people get sick on the system.”
And therein lies the problem. To the people on the right, this is an election year, and this crisis could be a disaster for Republican electoral chances. They care about that, not about public safety. These pundits want to downplay this pandemic to increase their numbers come November, regardless of the cost – even if that cost is countless human lives.