Saturday, April 4, 2020

Dr. Brit Hume's good news: everybody dies of something!

By A.J. Liebling
Meta- Content Generator
with Vincent Boom-Batz, Medical Correspondent

You might think from reports like this in The New York Times that things are looking, well, bleak out there:

New York, the increasingly battered epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus outbreak, on Friday reported its highest number of deaths in a single day, prompting state officials to beg the rest of the United States for assistance and to enact an emergency order designed to stave off medical catastrophe.

In the 24 hours through 12 a.m. on Friday, 562 people — or one almost every two-and-a-half minutes — died from the virus in New York State, bringing the total death toll to nearly 3,000, double what it was only three days before.

The reports from those on the front lines included in Times coverage are truly frightening:

It is hard to put fully into words what we are all grappling with as we navigate our way through this pandemic,” Vicki L. LoPachin, the chief medical officer of the Mount Sinai Health System, wrote in an email to the staff on Friday. “We are healing so many and comforting those we can’t save — one precious life at a time.

But fear not, because ex-reporter and full-time U Bum shill and Schlox News disinformation cannon Brit Hume will show you the error of your ways, not to mention those of credulous news outlets like the Times or hysterical (well, she is female) bleatings of health care bureaucrats attempting to line their pockets with N95 masks.

Yep, things aren't as bad as you have been led to believe (as Schlox News has insisted consistently since President PAB first dropped the coronavirus ball):

The correct number of coronavirus deaths isn't as the Times would have you believe isn't close to 3,000, it's, according to Dr. Hume, more like 14.  His unimpeachable source: some guy on Twitter.

Wait until Dr. Hume finds out that the death rate for people not infected with the virus is . . . 100%.  Sooner or later.

Before we ask why on earth any unit of government or health care institution would inflate the number of deaths (probably for the same reason that real reporters like Maggie Haberman and Lizzie O'Leary report in horror that the sirens never stop on the streets of densely-populated Brooklyn), let's think about the, um, merits of his position for a minute.

If someone is brought into the Mount Sinai emergency room with a gunshot wound to the chest and is also positive for coronavirus, is that person's death attributed to coronavirus?  Of course it depends.  If that person bleeds out in 20 minutes, it's death by trauma.  If that person is sewed up and six days develops acute respiratory distress and dies, wouldn't you categorize the cause of death as the virus?

It also turns out that the virus is taking an especially lethal harvest of the elderly (who being elderly may have other health problems) and the poor (whose lack of access to health care and other social goods leads directly to exacerbating conditions like diabetes and asthma).  The human among us might consider whether this justifies greater expenditures on health care, including preventive care.  The U Bum kissers like Hume seem to think that if you died, having already suffered from poverty and asthma, you're not even worthy of being a statistic.

And wouldn't you trust harried hard-working medical professionals risking their lives every day to mark the cause of death based on their best judgment at the time?  Not if you're Brit Hume, who's been carrying the can for Republican disinformation for decades.

As it turns out, the likelier possibility is that the death toll has been undercounted:

The Wall Street Journal analyzed data from Italy and concluded that as the virus stretched the health care system to its breaking point, “many people who die from the virus don’t make it to the hospital and are never tested,” and thus are not included in the official count. By comparing the number of deaths in particular communities to the same period a year ago, the Journal concluded that the true count is “far higher” than the recorded one. Evidence from Spain and anecdotal reports from the United States suggest that the Italian experience is not an anomaly. 

The very old among us (well, not quite as old as Bret) remember that he started out as a legitimate legman for legendary columnist Jack Anderson.  But decades of white male privilege and arrogance, not to mention those handsome paychecks from Rupert Murdoch, took their toll.

So it's important to the current Schlox News/Trumpublican disinformation campaign to minimize the death toll.  First, it makes President Pussy Ass Bitch look less clueless and incompetent.  Moreoever, as commentators like Greg Sargent have pointed out repeatedly, sowing distrust of media and all other institutions not beholden to President U Bum creates a fog of uncertainty in which U Bum can create his own reality and feed it to his white bigoted faithful (through lackeys like Hume):

But [President Tiny Toadstool] has crossed over into a form of autocratic disinformation that is designed to render fact-based deliberation and argument impossible.

If U Bum and Hume and his other enablers can cast doubt on apparently reliable medical statistics published by institutions that have no reason to lie, they can supply their own false narrative – it's only a problem in blue states, Governors are stealing ventilators, it's not your national stockpile, it's ours – and thereby avoid ever being held responsible for their incredible ineptitude, incompetence, and prejudice that has led to thousands of needless deaths.

What would Dr. Hume say to front-line health care workers like New York surgeon Cornelia Griggs (whose parents were classmates) risking their lives due to Trumpublican incompetence who wonder if they will ever see their children again?

Would he tell her not to worry because caring for the sick is just another underlying condition?

UPDATE, April 5:  Of course Dr. Hume got it exactly wrong.  From today's Washington Post:

The fast-spreading novel coronavirus is almost certainly killing Americans who are not included in the nation’s growing death toll, according to public health experts and government officials involved in the tally.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counts only deaths in which the presence of the coronavirus is confirmed in a laboratory test. “We know that it is an underestimation,” agency spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said.

A widespread lack of access to testing in the early weeks of the U.S. outbreak means people with respiratory illnesses died without being counted, epidemiologists say. Even now, some people who die at home or in overburdened nursing homes are not being tested, according to funeral directors, medical examiners and nursing home representatives.

Postmortem testing by medical examiners varies widely across the country, and some officials say testing the dead is a misuse of scarce resources that could be used on the living. In addition, some people who have the virus test negative, experts say.

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