Tuesday, October 27, 2020

It's Trump who's embracing science on COVID



The Hill published an extremely partisan, anti-Trump opinion column, "Science Seeks Truth, Trump Denies It," by outside contributors. Once again they beat the drum that Trump denies "the science," but in fact it is Trump critics doing so. (Note that The Hill declined to publish this rebuttal to its anti-Trump screed.)

Our antennae should go up when we hear vague, foggy slogans. They say Trump should follow the science. Yet they do not identify anything that a Joe Biden or anyone else could do as president that President Trump hasn't already done.

The only example in the fog is wearing masks, but Joe Biden does not consistently wear a mask. The most amusing part of the final presidential debate was Joe Biden holding up a mask next to his face (time 38:01) – while not actually wearing it – saying the science says we must wear these. But he wasn't wearing it. He was holding it up as a prop.

The science – after the experts told us don't wear masks – is that you either maintain an anti-social distance or you wear a mask. Not both. As the Associated Press admitted: "The CDC recommended in April that people wear cloth face coverings in public when it's difficult to be socially distant."

That's why Joe Biden was not wearing a mask standing at a podium in a cornfield on camera. When you watch TV news, remember that someone is standing behind those cameras. The studio is filled with staff. Yet the news anchors are not wearing masks because they are maintaining social distance.

So Trump follows the CDC guidance. Trump follows the science. Yet, trying to clarify the correct CDC guidance has been twisted into Trump being opposed to wearing masks. By the way, a president has no power to impose a mandate to wear masks, especially without Congress. Trump refusing to do what he has no power to do is not being against masks.

Biden running mate Kamala Harris identified Jan. 28, in her debate with Mike Pence, as the date when Trump should have known that the coronavirus spreading from Wuhan, China, posed a genuine danger.

But the day before that, on Jan. 27, Trump had already created an intergovernmental, nationwide task force to defend against the virus. It was announced on Jan. 29. There were on that date zero infections from within the U.S. (as distinct from citizens returning home, ordered into quarantine).

On Jan. 31, Trump declared a national public health emergency on COVID-19. What part of "an emergency" do critics fail to grasp? Trump also declared a different natural disaster emergency on March 13.

Did Trump ignore the threat? What part of a Jan. 31 "emergency" did highly educated scientists fail to notice? Trump knew. And everyone else knew, too. Then, like FDR, Trump sought to balance "emergency!" with comforting words of optimism. But that was only after blaring "emergency!" as if with sirens screaming and red lights flashing.

Also on Jan. 31, Trump shut down travel by travelers who had been in China within 14 days (then the "science" of when a person might be infectious). No one could have missed the drastic step of shutting down our country from the world's most-populous nation. Democrats raised an outcry, criticizing Trump for doing it.

So, by Jan. 31 everyone knew that COVID-19 presented a risk. On Feb. 4, Trump warned the nation in his State of the Union address. Governments worldwide heard.

Yet, on March 2, New York City's Commissioner of Health Oxiris Barbot – a highly trained physician – issued public guidance: "We know that there is currently no indication that it is easy to transmit by casual contact. There is no need to do anything special in the community. We want New Yorkers to go about their daily lives. Ride the subway. Take the bus. Go see your neighbors." That doctor claimed that SARS-CoV-2 cannot be spread by casual contact. So what "science" is one supposed to follow?

In fact, as late as March 5, NYC's Health Commissioner was insisting that the risk from COVID-19 was low: "At a City Hall press conference on March 5, with 'only four confirmed cases' in NYC, Barbot said the city was urging people who arrived from certain countries with rising cases to self-isolate, but everybody else without symptoms should not have to quarantine. 'No need for it,' she said."

It was not until March 16 that New York City Democratic Mayor De Blasio was badgered reluctantly into shutting down the largest public school system in the nation. NYC's subway remained open as a virus factory. And of course, NYC is what fueled the spread nationwide.

The World Health Organization told the world up through Jan. 21 that COVID-19 was not spread by human to human transmission. They never explained how they thought it was spread. But because only WHO had access to information inside China, this misinformation sent the world's governments looking in the wrong direction until Jan. 21.

On Oct. 11, 2020, the WHO flip-flopped and recommended against shutdowns of societies as a way of fighting COVID-19. How do we follow "the science" without getting whip lash?

Science is a messy process. Always has been. Trump's critics deny the unruly nature of science. Anthony Fauci told the public don't wear masks (and no, not because of supply, for concrete reasons why widespread mask wearing was a bad idea). The U.S. surgeon general implored on Feb. 29, "Seriously people – STOP BUYING MASKS! They are not effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus …"

We are left with superstition: A virus would not infect people if Trump cared more. In fact, Trump has been a notorious germophobe for decades. Trump was mocked by the media from 2017 to 2019 for rarely shaking hands, constantly using Purell, urging people (years ago) to wash their hands and sending medics to check on people coughing on Air Force One.

Literally for this very purpose, I wrote the book "Covid: Hindsight is 2020," to refute and clarify distortions, half-truths and worse with hard documentation. The 251 footnotes disprove false narratives. We must fight back against this tsunami of lies and stand public debate on sound facts.


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