Beware of three widely circulating coronavirus lies — and the partisan motives behind them. These lies are dangerous to our children and hinder our communities’ ability to cope with this virus.
Lie No. 1: “The United States’ response stands out as among the worst of any country.” House Majority Whip James Clyburn leveled that charge as he kicked off a hearing into this virus Friday.
Yet a staggering 183,639 Europeans have died from the virus as of Monday. Deaths per capita have been far higher in Britain, Spain and Italy than in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers. After a lull, cases are spiking in several European countries.
That hasn’t stopped New York Times columnist Paul Krugman from asking: “Why Can’t Trump’s America Be Like Italy?” Is he crazy? A patient with coronavirus has faced three times the risk of dying from it in Italy as in America, Johns Hopkins data indicate.
Lie No. 2: Clyburn accused Team Trump of “rushing into reopening the schools” against the “advice of public-health experts.” Sorry, but the experts want schools to reopen.
At the hearing, expert witnesses Anthony Fauci, from the National Institutes of Health, and Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were emphatic. Redfield itemized the dangers — delayed learning, social isolation, undetected child abuse and even adolescent suicide — from school closings. And he called attention to his agency’s blueprint for reopening schools safely, down to how to space the desks and handle lunch time.
The CDC reports that COVID-19 poses a smaller risk to children than ordinary flu, for which schools never close. And children under age 10 are unlikely to infect family members, based on data from Switzerland, Iceland and South Korea.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine are urging that at least grades K-5 reopen. These are where remote learning is least feasible and infecting family members is unlikely.
Contrary to this science, the Democratic Party and teachers’ unions are demanding schools stay closed. They’re holding kids and parents hostage — in the latter’s case, while getting paid to do exactly zilch.
A New Zealand study found that infected students never infect their teachers. Yet New York City teachers are taking to the streets, marching with coffins and skeletons. They’re frauds.
Transit workers, cops and firefighters are showing up for work — despite the real dangers they confront.
On “Face the Nation” Sunday, Clyburn shamelessly repeated his false claim that schools can’t reopen because the administration doesn’t have a safety plan. But there is a detailed plan, and it can be found on the CDC’s Web site.
Lie No. 3: Clyburn accused the Trump administration of having no “comprehensive national strategy” to combat the virus. The truth is, since March, these agencies have produced thousands of pages of detailed action plans. I’ve read them. You might disagree with some details, as I do, but to insist there is no plan is preposterous.
Yet that’s the Democrats’ talking point. No surprise, The New York Times is parroting it, claiming in a July 30 editorial that a “coherent response” has been missing for months.
At Friday’s hearing, Fauci laid out the administration’s vaccine strategy, optimistically predicting a safe, effective vaccine before the end of 2020. Redfield ranged over plans for workplaces, schools, nursing homes and childcare centers.
Despite the virus surging in many states, Redfield testified that if Americans wholeheartedly embrace five measures — masks, hand hygiene, social distancing, avoiding crowds and protecting the elderly — we can get this virus under control, without shutdowns. That’s an important message.
Look out for a fourth lie being concocted now: namely, that the administration is cutting corners on safety to deliver a vaccine before the election. Fauci assured Congress several times it isn’t true. But The New York Times published a news story Monday implying as much, without evidence, just peddling innuendo and mostly anonymous sources. That lie could dissuade people from getting vaccinated and cost many lives.
It’s the most dangerous of all.
Betsy McCaughey is author of the new book “The Next Pandemic.”