The almost-empty shelves at Wal-Mart these days may be seen by some as an overreaction to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic but I see a bright spot: many Jeff Davis County citizens are ignoring the irrational attitudes of right-wing, pseudo-journalist blowhards such as Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, et al, ad nauseam.
Hannity on Fox News complained that “we’re scaring people unnecessarily,” adding “they,” whoever they are, are trying to “bludgeon Trump with this new hoax.”
Limbaugh, the most popular radio host in America, claimed the only reason people are discouraging Trump from holding big rallies is to hurt him politically. “If you can’t beat Trump and if you want to stop the appearance of excitement about the Trump campaign, then stop the rallies.”
Mick Mulvaney, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, said, “The reason you’re seeing so much attention to it today is that they think this is going to be the thing that brings down the president. That’s what this is all about.”
Trump’s son even proclaimed that Democrats are hoping the pandemic kills millions of Americans just so his daddy will be defeated in this year’s election.
Trish Regan of Fox Business said the coronavirus concern is “yet another attempt to impeach the president.”
Even our own conservative columnist John Reed joined the chorus in his column of March 3, saying that nowhere else but in Hazlehurst could he “Never worry about coronavirus since our isolation is its own security.” That coming less than two weeks before thousands of people descended on Hazlehurst for Peaches to the Beaches from all over Georgia, the southeast and even as far away as Texas. How’s that for isolation?
Of course, now Fox News has tempered its alternative reality and is taking a more reasonable approach to the pandemic. And President Trump, who makes a habit of fashioning his approach to governing from cues taken directly from Fox News rather than from experts, has changed his tune from ignorantly downplaying the coronavirus threat to actually trying to do something about it.
I hear so many people downplaying the pandemic by comparing it to other problems. Like the death rate from cancer, or vehicle accidents, or heart disease, or any other “pick your killer phenomenon.”
My reaction to that is, “and your point is?”
Influenza has already taken the lives of 10,000 Americans this season, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while coronavirus had killed less than 450 as of Monday morning. But that’s still 450 people who probably would not have died. And we’re just getting started with what is expected to be a months-long pandemic if not longer.
Yes, the coronavirus may wind up claiming many less lives than flu. But that will be because we reacted to the danger rather than playing it down as conservative pundits have been doing. The closing of schools, cancellation of the NBA season, the Final Four, church services, the Masters, and large gatherings in particular, are reactions that give us a good chance of keeping the death toll low. We’re acting, not ignoring, and not downplaying. And that’s a good thing.