Good Questions for Public Policymakers As Nation Grapples With COVID-19 Spread

MAIN STREET, USA – There is A LOT happening as the nation’s public policymakers struggle to mitigate the effects of the Wuhan Coronavirus spreading throughout the country. But are the policies these elected and non-elected leaders are putting down helping or hurting? Are the projected scenarios realistic, or overly reactionary?

Are we Chicken Little? Or are these extreme mitigation measures reasonable in the face of a an even greater threat?

Steve Deace at The Blaze is asking some of these questions, and laying out just why policymakers ought to answer them if they expect to for Americans to get on the same page regarding the coronavirus. Because, as Deace puts it, public policy — especially in the U.S., the Land of the Free — requires a broader set of questions than does public health.

From The Blaze:

Epidemiology is one thing, but public policy is another.

When it comes to coronavirus/COVID-19, we take the publicly urged precautions seriously at my house, and recommend you do, too. We have disinfected our home while upping our Vitamin C & D usage. Since my gym was closed, I haven’t left my home except for work in nearly a week. Our kids haven’t been with their grandparents. I trust the proven experts when it comes to my health, and the health of my loved ones.

However, public policy requires a broader set of questions and considerations because it has sweeping implications. This is why our Constitution makes the president the CEO of America, and not the surgeon general.

Since shows like mine began doing the job the White House press corps is supposed to do, by asking skeptical questions to get real answers for the public rather than play China PR flack, many have asked me to compare and contrast an average flu season with the current pandemic. People are seeking some perspective on a virus most of them didn’t know about just a few weeks ago, but is radically changing their lives now.

Here is the official CDC report on last year’s flu season. It’s pretty easy to understand. You don’t have to be a renowned expert to get the gist of it. Please, I urge you, to read it for yourself. Draw your own conclusions.

In the midst of the report under the header PNEUMONIA AND INFLUENZA ASSOCIATED MORTALITY (for some reason the CDC groups the two afflictions together for a death rate), you’ll see this key data point:

“Nationally, mortality attributed to pneumonia and influenza peaked two times at 7.7% during the weeks ending February 23rd and March 16th.”

What this means is during those time periods last year, 7.7% of the people who contracted pneumonia and the flu ended up tragically dying. And that was with precautions we don’t have yet for COVID-19 — vaccines, public awareness, etc. And yet, there was no call to “flatten the curve” during those spikes to save an overwhelmed medical system. Furthermore, CDC estimated 65 million Americans nationwide were afflicted with the flu during the 2018-19 flu season. In fact, the National Center for Health Statistics said 7.1% of all deaths in America the week of March 7, the week before we starting shutting our country down en masse over coronavirus, were due to flu and pneumonia.

By comparison, as of Sunday at 6p.m. ET, the current U.S. death rate from COVID-19 was 414 deaths out of 32,356 cases reported, or 1.27% of those whom we’ve confirmed have it so far have sadly perished. Of course, given the limited testing it’s likely many more Americans than this currently have been exposed. And 50% of those 414 deaths were from two states alone (Washington & New York).

Please pray for them, their hospitals are overrun, particularly in Seattle and New York City. But we also need to separate the pathology of the virus from the psychology of the public policy we’re being preemptively asked to submit to. With any diagnosis, a patient is within his rights to ask if the cure is worse than the disease. In this case the cure we’re specifically addressing is the shutting down of our way of life — the public policy antidote.

However, given the available data, our cataclysmic response just doesn’t make sense and merits further questioning. That isn’t a conspiracy theory, and this isn’t my data but the government’s. These are the primary push-backs I’ve gotten to the questions I’ve asked thus far. Surely, there must be better counters? For this is the actual data being reported to us from the government currently shutting us down.

Also, I’m not arguing epidemiology but public policy in light of it. I don’t work in the medical field and am not questioning medical experts. But I have worked in the public policy field full-time for almost 14 years. Questioning those who craft public policy is my job and my area of expertise. Oh, by the way, medical professionals from esteemed institutions such as Stanford and Yale are asking similar questions.

Also, we learned over the weekend that using Italy as our baseline for domestic fear is worthless, because the Italians have admitted their own data is unreliable. Which led to them having a far greater mortality rate than even Asian countries on Wuhan’s doorstep, when a fellow European country leading the way in testing, Germany, currently has just a 0.3% rate of death among those who contract COVID-19.

By all means, seek out wisdom in a multitude of counsel. I’m just a data analyst. I don’t make data, or acquire it, but research the data that’s out there. And here’s some questions that data is begging a self-governing people to ask:

How do we “flatten the curve” when we don’t know when the curve started?

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