The full story of the ‘second wave’

19 June 2020

4:35 AM

19 June 2020

4:35 AM

Has the second wave of COVID-19 arrived? Or is it time to fully reopen the country? It depends where you get your news.

Recent coverage of the coronavirus has largely focused on Florida and Texas — two populous states run by Republican governors who have been eager to reopen their economies. As many news agencies are reporting, each state has reported record high positive testing numbers nearly every day in the past week. But that isn’t the whole story.

Record-high numbers of positive cases are a result of record-high testing numbers, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas who have the support of the nation’s President and Vice President. Journalists have been quick to ‘fact check’ this claim, concluding that recent outbreaks are a result of both increased testing and a reopening of the economy.

Americans, for their part, know that the most important statistics are deaths. Florida’s number of coronavirus-related deaths has remained steady in recent weeks, while Texas’s has slightly increased to levels still well below its spring peak. What’s rarely mentioned is the coronavirus death rates of these two states, which have been some of the lowest in the country. Florida has 14 deaths per 100,000 residents since the start of the outbreak. Texas has seven deaths per 100,000 residents. Reopening has not so far caused the death rate in either state to rise.

Here, there seems to be dishonesty from the media, who are all too happy for protesters to gather in huge numbers without flagging the risks, but are adamant that Republican social life is highly dangerous.

By no means is Cockburn saying increased numbers of positive cases should be ignored. The point is that the impact of the coronavirus is too crucial to be watered down with half the story. A spike in confirmed coronavirus cases doesn’t guarantee a spike in deaths.

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