By Larry Levine –
If a tree falls in the forest and crushes someone to death, but no one hears it, is the person still dead?
That seems to be the philosophy of the Trump Administration and at least some of the Republican Governors around the country regarding testing for coronavirus infections and county the deaths from the resultant Covid-19 pandemic.
Trump himself has shifted to mouthing negative comments about the need for testing. He even went so far as to say we wouldn’t have as many cases of infection if we didn’t test. Even from the most ignorant president in U.S. history, that sets a new standard for ignorance.
In a speech Thursday in Allentown PA, Trump wondered aloud if testing is “overrated.” Then we went on to say, “And don’t forget, we have more cases than anybody in the world. But why? Because we do more testing.”
Then he attempted to clarify what even he must have realized was an absurdity and is so doing the hole got deeper. “When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases,” he said.
Some of the nation’s governor apparently also have figured out that their rush to reopen everything would look better if they talked of testing while jiggering the data.
Florida fired it’s top Covid-19 data scientist, she says because she was asked to manipulate data to justify re-opening and refused.
The day after Georgia Governor Brian Kemp was on the radio touting the success of his state’s re-opening three weeks earlier and claiming hospitalizations were down 30 percent, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer revealed the state was artificially inflating the number of tests conducted thus artificially lowering the percentage of positive tests.
BuzzFeed News reported this week: “Disputes over coronavirus case counts in reopening states like Georgia, Arizona, and Florida are worrying public health experts, who fear public trust in health agencies is being destroyed by moves to silence or obscure unwelcome data.
“Ultimately this is going to kill people,” said biostatistics professor Ruth Etzioni of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. “People are going to see low numbers from these reports with manipulated numbers, go outside when they should stay in, get ill, and die.”
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts (R) announced early this month his state would no longer report data regarding virus cases at meatpacking plants. That came after the state earlier had stopped providing the media with reports of infections in the state.
Early this week it was learned four states – Virginia, Texas, Georgia and Vermont – combined data from two different test results to provide a potentially misleading picture of how the virus spread as restrictions were relaxed.
All this puts me in mind of a very conservative city councilmember in the very conservative city of Glendale CA in the early 1960s. I was a reporter at the Glendale News Press. My beat included covering the city council. Each month the local police department would give the city council a report on criminal activity in the city. In reading the report one month, our city councilmember was overjoyed. She proclaimed, “It’s nice to know we have no prostitution in Glendale. We haven’t arrested on in more than a month.”