Coronavirus in Arizona: Stick to data and stop media-induced panic

( Washington Examiner )

Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx continue to offer up interesting contradictions on COVID-19. Birx has told us that a rise in positive test results for the coronavirus indicates a spike in deaths to come. Fauci, on the other hand, says that the mortality rate is irrelevant.

They’re both wrong, and Arizona is demonstrating as much amid the current outbreak.

By far, the largest spike in positive tests right now is in the 21-to-44 age group, which accounts for more than half of all cases and more than half of all new cases. If the rise in positive tests indicates a coming spike in deaths, one would expect within seven to 14 days a rise in the fatality rate among that age group. Fortunately, that isn't happening, according to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services. In fact, the death rate among that group is 0.22% now, with the rapidly rising number of nonlethal cases.

Speaking of which, Fauci has said the death rate from COVID-19 is unimportant. Again, the case of Arizona suggests otherwise. The low and declining death rate mirrors a broader situation in which, although there are far more positive tests for the coronavirus, there is no reason to panic.

Back on June 11, 11% of those testing positive for COVID-19 were being hospitalized. More recently, that number fell to 5%, and among those actually hospitalized, only 1.82% have died, down from 4.5% earlier in the pandemic.

But are the hospitals being overrun? Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego recently commented that Arizona hospitals are triaging patients, so short of facilities that they were sending people home to die. Fortunately, that was simply a politician's falsehood that was quickly checked and refuted by local journalists.

Typically, Arizona’s intensive care unit usage is at around 80% to 90%. That currently stands at about 88% to 90% for the past three weeks, and only about 60% of the ICU cases are COVID-19-related, although not all of those have confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses.

Arizona’s general inpatient beds have been about 84% to 87% full for more than a month. Of those, only about half are COVID-19 patients, and again, these numbers include “suspected” COVID-19 patients.

Fauci implies that other data must be looked at to support the policies that he espouses, which have destroyed freedom and wealth and imposed other public health crises. But the data suggest that the risk from COVID-19 is being mitigated effectively and that an eternal lockdown of the nation's social and economic life is not necessary and probably won't improve upon the current situation.

Allowing people to make choices and accept risks, something inherent in all human activity, is more appropriate than having bureaucrats control every aspect of our lives.

The sad part of all of this is that some people, a lot of them in the media, prefer fear and loathing instead of having the humility to look at the data, accept that there will be risks, and determine how we can reasonably minimize them.

For instance, the narrative being propounded about schools is that we must not reopen until there is a vaccine or until it is “safe.” But the odds are not good of finding a vaccine by the time school opens in August of 2021, let alone 2020.

The trap of demanding 100% safety before reopening is that nothing is foolproof. Everyone, including school-age children, face risks every day. While many nations around the world have reopened schools without masks, gloves, plexiglass, and the unattainable requirements of social distancing among children, America’s teachers unions are demanding unattainable, foolproof levels of safety.

The evidence so far suggests that children have virtually no chance of contracting COVID-19 or dying from it and that they are not superspreaders of the virus. In other words, the risk to children, to those who work with them, and to their families to whom they return after school, is minimal.

The other nations of the world also recognize that, in many instances, it is riskier for children to stay home than to be in school.

Let's start telling the unvarnished truth and let people make decisions on how to live their lives. We all take risks hundreds of times every day. It’s better to give people the facts and let them decide than to frighten them with hyperbole and lies into a state of panicked compliance.

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