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COVID and masks are infected with politics

OPINION

BY LEN CABRERA

Coronavirus was politicized about 30 seconds after it was discovered, from not identifying it by origin (Wuhan, China), to typical New-York-Times-style laments (“women and minorities hardest hit”), to ignoring any factual evidence that counters the preferred narrative.

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It began with an ill-advised, national two-week lockdown to “flatten the curve,” something that has never been done in centuries of pandemics. We weren’t allowed to question the legality of the lockdown and definitely not supposed to look at countries, like Sweden, that did not lock down.

Two weeks turned into two months, and we were told we’d be in lockdown until a vaccine was available (despite the history on how long vaccines take to develop and the fact that we were never able to find a vaccine for the previous SARS coronavirus). We were told the draconian measures were worth it if they saved at least one life, while ignoring the loss of life caused by the lockdowns.

When the peasants threatened revolt, our dear leaders decided to slowly reopen but conditioned everything on more testing, knowing that more testing would result in more cases. The additional cases were immediately declared a reason to slow or reverse the reopening.

When people pointed out that the positive test rates were actually decreasing, two things happened. First, massive protests and riots were exempted from all the lockdown policies and politicians blatantly lied, saying that those events would not contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Look at the graph of cumulative COVID-19 cases in Florida since May 1 and Jun 10. (Data from the Florida Department of Health line data.)

The protests started around May 28 and continued through the next few weeks, lining up perfectly with an increase in cases around June 10. (Gainesville’s biggest protest was on June 13, and Alachua County cases spiked around June 18, discounting the agricultural farmworker cases around June 11 that were outside the general community and were reported June 11-13.)

The second manipulation to counter decreasing positive test rates was leaving negative tests out of the reporting (another story here), so the positivity rate started climbing, conveniently at the same time as several politicians made a reduced positivity rate a condition for reopening.

Don’t believe this is all political? Search for “H1N1 testing,” and you’ll find that the results are split between conservative news sites quoting 2009 stories about Obama’s CDC abruptly stopping testing and “fact check” sites claiming Trump repeating that story is false or misleading. Here’s a 2009 story from CBS News:

“In late July, the CDC abruptly advised states to stop testing for H1N1 flu, and stopped counting individual cases. The rationale given for the CDC guidance to forego testing and tracking individual cases was: why waste resources testing for H1N1 flu when the government has already confirmed there’s an epidemic?… CBS News learned that the decision to stop counting H1N1 flu cases was made so hastily that states weren’t given the opportunity to provide input.”

More COVID politics: When people pointed out that increased cases and positivity rates were irrelevant because the death rate was decreasing, we were told by Fauci himself that it’s a “false narrative.” This is the guy who now claims New York “did it correctly.”

That would be the same New York that has 32,584 deaths (as of July 21)… a state with about 2 million fewer people than Florida, but over 6 times more deaths. This level of gaslighting really requires an uninformed public.

Another example of gaslighting comes from the USA Today, claiming what Sweden did to handle COVID-19 is not working. Do they not realize that all the data is publicly available? Here’s what Sweden’s daily deaths look like compared to New York, Fauci’s model for how to handle COVID-19. (Data from Worldometers for Sweden and New York.)

Note that the graph controls for population because the deaths are shown per 1 million population. Sweden has a rather high total death toll per 1 million population (558) because they failed to secure their nursing homes early on. New York, however, actually sent COVID-positive residents back to their nursing homes; New York’s total deaths per 1 million population is 1,675. (That’s not a typo.) Have you noticed how hard the national media is pushing the idea that New York is a model to follow, but we shouldn’t follow Sweden’s example?

Florida’s total deaths per 1 million population is only 236, but it’s growing despite ever-tightening restrictions and mandatory mask orders. Since July 1, Florida has averaged 79 deaths per day, compared to 35 in June. Since July 1, Sweden is averaging less than 8 deaths per day (max 16). That’s a country with roughly 10 million people. The graph below shows the daily deaths per 1 million population for Sweden, Florida, and Georgia, as of July 21. (Data for Sweden, Florida, and Georgia.)

The case fatality rate for New York is 7.5%. In Florida it’s 1.4%. Our deaths are climbing, but that’s because we have a vulnerable population left, unlike New York, which let them all die earlier this year.

The graph below shows the daily deaths per million population since July 1. Note that Georgia is more open than Florida, and their governor has made mask mandates illegal. Sweden had more deaths early on but appears to be over the COVID epidemic. Who handled COVID-19 correctly?

Yet all these death numbers are exaggerated because they count death with instead of death from COVID-19. The best example was reported by Fox 35 in Orlando, where someone who died from a motorcycle crash was listed as a COVID-19 death. Back on May 12, Alachua County Health Department Administrator Paul Myers talked about the COVID-19 deaths in Alachua County: “these individuals had at least four co-morbidities… it’s at least very curious to me that we’re counting these as COVID-19 deaths.”

But whatever Paul Myers says is discounted by local politicians because he works for the Florida Department of Health, which is run by Governor DeSantis, who happens to be from a different political party than the rulers of Alachua County and the City of Gainesville. That’s all you need to hear to know the entire response is political. City Commissioner Gail Johnson said, “the federal government and the state government is actively trying to kill people.” That’s the level of rationality behind our local emergency orders.

The wearing of masks is now a religious rite that cannot be questioned. Note how our rulers changed from requiring masks when social distancing is not possible to requiring masks all the time (even in your own home in Broward County). We’re not allowed to point out studies that show masks don’t work or that locations with strict mask orders aren’t faring any better than places that don’t have them. Our lockdowns and mask orders are not about COVID-19; they’re about control.

In the 1990 film adaptation of “The Hunt for Red October,” the national security advisor tells Jack Ryan, “I’m a politician, which means I’m a cheat and a liar. And when I’m not kissing babies, I’m stealing their lollipops.” Sadly, our politicians are well beyond lollipops. They are happy to destroy small businesses and millions of jobs (while carving exemptions for their cronies), all for political gain.

Coronavirus is real, but the response and the narrative(s) are a scam. If you haven’t figured that out, you’re not paying attention. So many people are willingly giving up their freedoms that we’re no longer the “land of the free and home of the brave”; we’ve become “the land of the controlled and home of the timid.”

In 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.” I agree with Jefferson and would oppose a mask order because of individual freedom, regardless of the numbers. In this case, however, the data backs up my position. The politicians claim a mask mandate is for our own good, but the data contradict their self-professed good intentions. If they ignore the potential harmful effects of masks and ignore the science that masks do not prevent community spread, are their intentions really good?

If you’re terrified of COVID-19 because you’ve bought the national media hype, stay locked up if you want. Buy yourself a mask, a bullet-proof vest, a helmet, wrist guards, a bee-keeper’s veil, rubber-soled shoes, and any other safety equipment you think you need. We can agree to acknowledge that your mask is a signal that you want us to stay at least 6 feet away, as long as you agree to do the same while wearing your useless mask.

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