Illogic and Half-Truths in the Time of Coronavirus

April 19, 2020

If the first casualty of war is truth, surely it is also a victim of the partisan divide now infecting the national debate surrounding Coronavirus. “Facts are stubborn things”, said John Adams, and the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan expounded with, “You’re entitled to your opinion, you’re just not entitled to your own facts.”  Allow me to suggest that truthful assessment does not focus only on those facts that support a pre-conceived conclusion—while covering up or ignoring those that don’t. Sound analysis, indeed honest journalism, requires us to look at the totality of the information available, something sorely lacking in our civil discourse around the coronavirus, and the full impact of the proposed remedies now under consideration.

What follows are some examples of “the rest of the story…”

American deaths “related to” coronavirus now exceed 40,000, or just over that of a typical flu season, a death rate of 122 souls per million of population, far lower than 12 other industrialized nations.  As a result of our shutdown to “flatten the curve”, an estimated 22 million Americans have been made unemployedthe most in history, or about 15% of the working population, up from the 50-year low of 3.5% just 8 weeks ago. To offset this shock to our system, over $2.2 trillion was just added to our national debt in a single week

In an interview on The Story with Martha MacCallum last week, author Bill Bennett explained that “…when you ‘convulse the economy’, you have fatalities as a result. It’s estimated that for every 1% increase in unemployment, you experience 10,000 suicides. Let’s say it’s only 5000 suicides.  That means we’re looking at 75,000 people. That doesn’t count deaths from alcoholism, opioids, child abuse, domestic violence, and the loss of an economy and (22) million jobs…”  On Thursday evening, Dr. Phil echoed those concerns saying, “…the fallout from this is going to last for years because people’s lives are being destroyed…”

Last week, Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration announced that calls to the State’s Mental Health and Suicide Prevention hotline had gone from about 1000 to 25,000 per day, with the primary concerns being loss of a job, estrangement from family, or relapse into alcohol abuse or addiction of some kind—due to the stresses imposed by the government’s response to coronavirus.  

With those job losses comes eviction, homelessness, and hunger.  Food Banks around the country have seen dramatic spikes in demand, lines of cars stretching for many blocks, and the heads of those charities are telling reporters that 50% of those in line are using a food bank for the first time, with many of them having volunteered there on behalf of others in the past.

According to this report from PBS, our CDC doesn’t consider someone “recovered” from coronavirus until after they are both symptom-free, and have passed two negative tests, separated by more than 24 hours. Now we know why the U.S. has so many active cases on their website. Hospitals simply haven’t had enough tests to devote three tests per patient; the first one that positively diagnosed them, and two negative tests upon discharge and again days later. Most patients have no desire to go back to the hospital, or to set up an office visit with their primary care physician, merely to satisfy the CDC‘s requirements. They know they’re healed; they are symptom-free, and they’ve had a negative test to prove it. And hospitals and doctor’s offices, short on tests, are preserving their supply of tests for the elderly and at-risk patients still walking into their emergency rooms.

Three months after the first U.S. case of coronavirus, we now know that your odds of contracting the infection are 0.065% in Arizona. If you do contract the virus, you have a 98% chance of recovering—and that’s according to the CDC’s second negative test standard just described above.  Were they to declare you recovered after just one negative test and no symptoms, those odds rise to 99.92%.

For months now, our collective angst around U.S. cases of coronavirus has been caused or reinforced by the now-infamous map of the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Dashboard.  While one was always able to go to the site and zoom in on that map, news outlets rarely did, showing it from a distance and fueling the pandemic panic that made it appear as though the entire country was bathed in bloody, imminent death. (See below)

Above is the blood-red Johns Hopkins Univ. map that the media has been showing to the public for many weeks, implying that the country is inundated coast-to-coast with infections, ICU admissions, and endless death.

This week, JHU announced the release of a new county-by-county map that shows a much truer picture of American rates of infection.  Notice any difference?  And this new map is showing our country at “peak” cases, whereas the older map has looked like that going back many weeks.

This is the new JHU map, introduced earlier this week, showing infections by county. So far, we’ve had 40,131 deaths “related to” coronavirus, in a population of over 328,239,000, or 0.01 percent of the population.

The government’s forgivable loan program, the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP), is already out of money in less than a week. At this writing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is refusing to call the House back to Washington until there’s agreement that, among other partisan demands, fully half of the new top-off money going into the PPP must go to female and minority-owned businesses. What about the females and the minorities who work for other businesses, you ask? The first round of funding was available on a first-come, first-served basis, regardless of whether you were male, female, minority, or white. Pelosi now wants any new money distributed, not based on need and merit, but on gender and skin color. So: If you’re African American, Native American, Hispanic, or female—but you have the misfortune of working for a white male business owner—your paycheck will not be protected under the Paycheck Protection Plan, exactly the opposite of what Pelosi claims to intend. What tragic stupidity.

And then we have Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer. On April 8th, after the Michigan legislature voted down her request for a dubious 70-day extension of her statewide emergency authority (it now expires at the end of this month), she doubled down on her already restrictive stay-at-home order, telling her residents that if they were caught traveling to their cabins (within the state of Michigan) for a week or two of canoeing, grilling and continued self-quarantine, that they would face steep fines and arrests for “reckless endangerment.” Her rationale was that if that couple was infected, asymptomatic, and happened to stop at a gas station or a general store near their cabin, that they ran the risk of infecting that entire rural community, and overwhelming the medical system and the typically smaller community hospital nearby. In addition, she also ordered the closure or the roping off of “nonessential” parts of certain stores. Under Whitmer’s illogic, you could go to the pharmacy section of your local Target to buy Tylenol, make-up, and even hair coloring for those overdue roots—but you couldn’t go into the home and garden section to buy paint, grass seed, or propane for the grill.

This is the type of bureaucratic overreach and governmental micromanagement that seems so arbitrary and illogical to most Americans. We value our freedoms and our rights, and don’t take kindly to having those curtailed or suspended, hence the massive protests that Whitmer experienced of over 14,000 Michiganders who’ve now had enough. When you consider that seven other Midwestern governors have not issued mandatory stay-at-home orders—and their states’ infection rates are entirely under control—Whitmer’s onerous edicts stand in stark contrast to the temperance of her more restrained peers.  

In summary, much of this has been underreported or misreported by the mainstream media.  The focus has been on the pandemic, often rightly so, to the exclusion of any reporting on the collateral damage being done to the millions of other lives affected, the precedent-setting assault on our freedoms and rights, or the specious justifications for the restrictions we’re being asked to accept.  As those 14,000 Michigan protestors made clear for all to hear, the dangers posed by a government that advocates a loss of freedoms in the name of limited security, far outweigh the dangers of a highly survivable virus that you have such a small chance of catching.

Stay safe,

Coming soon: Coronavirus, the 2020 Deficit, and the National Debt


  • Jerry says:

    Great Blog. Thanks, Thom.
    Jerry Salandro

  • Zafi Gamlieli says:

    Spot on, Thom.

  • Melissa Salandro says:

    I’m proud of you to actually blog the facts. We are all desperately seeking the truth.
    Well done.

  • Bob Snider says:

    “Live Free or Die”
    Thanks, New Hampshire!

  • Georgianne Giese says:

    Please do NOT compare the governor of Michigan’s actions to those of states where there was NO stay at home order. Michigan’s rate of infection was huge, 3rd highest in the nation. That was not the case in states where there was no stay at home order. In Michigan’s case, drastic measures were necessary. Furthermore, when drastic actions are taken early, the infection rate declines earlier and people can get back to work sooner. But the overriding criteria is the infection rate. The higher the rate, the more drastic the cure. And by the way, here in SC, we self imposed a stay at home long before the governor took notice. We were not born yesterday!

    • Thomas Brueckner says:

      Hello Georgianne and Fred,

      First, thank you for commenting on my blog post. We always celebrate civil discourse, and welcome a variety of opinions.

      In response to your comment, let me first say that I made no such comparison. There are parts of those other Midwestern states, namely their major cities, where their governors have recommended closure and home-quarantine, but have left it up to the judgment of each business owner as to how best to achieve that. Obviously, it’s not a sustainable business model for any business owner to endanger his customers. In Michigan, the residents and business owners living in the more rural parts of the state could easily enjoy similar discretion, yet Governor Whitmer is unwilling to rely on the common sense of her residents. I wasn’t comparing her stay-at-home order to the lack thereof among some of her counterparts in the Midwest. I was pointing out that elements of her stay at home order are onerous and make no sense. Case in point: I have clients who summer in a suburb of Lansing. Both their son and his wife recently lost their jobs due to their employer being deemed nonessential. They have a Casita behind their home, which is currently rented, but since their tenant also lost her job, she will soon be vacating the cottage. My clients would like their son and his wife to be able to move in, and are even willing to pay them to repaint the place. Obviously, they need the money. Under Whitmer‘s order, as I pointed out in my blog, they can go into Target to buy hair coloring and other hygienic essentials, but they can’t walk 20 yards to the home and garden supply area to buy paint brushes. Q: If they’re already going to be putting their purchased items on a conveyor belt, inserting their ATM card, and punching the keys on the keyboard, does it really matter how many items they’re purchasing, or what they’re purchasing? Again, this is bureaucratic overreach and just one example among dozens of the illogic of such an order. (Whitmer will allow Michiganders to use kayaks and canoes, but not a boat with an outboard motor.) This is not about politics, Georgianne, this is about common sense. I have the same criticisms of Republican governors doing the same, and I have many criticisms of our President. If, as you say, “The higher the rate, the more drastic the cure”, shouldn’t the opposite also apply? If rural areas have little to no infections, why can’t they open ahead of the Detroit area where the rate of infection is higher?

      Finally, clinical case studies around the world are now showing that there is literally no difference between when the virus peaks and subsides in countries that exercised extreme quarantining, like Israel, or those who minimized it like Sweden. The virus acted in exactly the same way, peaking in the sixth week and rapidly subsiding by the eighth week. In addition, Stanford University clinicians, as well as medical providers in the Boston area and elsewhere, polled hundreds or several thousand patients testing for the presence of antibodies. In each case, they found that roughly 38% of those polled tested positive for the presence of antibodies, meaning they had once contracted the virus, never had symptoms, and their bodies overcame the infection. This tells us two things: First, the virus is every bit as contagious as we originally feared and got a big head start over the closure of the country on January 31st. Secondly, it is several orders of magnitude less fatal than originally feared, and that at least a third of those now sitting in home quarantines under a governor’s order could most likely go back to work. Obviously those with comorbidities, and those over the age of 70 need to continue quarantining until such time as every community has a supply of convalescent plasma, a treatment regimen, or until a vaccine has been developed. James Bullard of the St. Louis Fed estimates that before this is over unemployment will peek at 40 million Americans. That’s a Depression, not a recession. With every passing week there’s more and more data showing that all of this may have been entirely unnecessary.

      I wish you and Fred safe quarantining at home and hope that soon you’ll be able to resume enjoying your well earned retirement.


  • Wayne & Shirley Seiffert says:

    Thanks, Thom, for your insight. We have passed this on to our family members and friends.

    • Ron Tossell says:

      Great reporting and revelation! Add to that, the reporting of ‘normal’ deaths, (non-covid-19), has been excluded! How many ‘typical’ deaths have there been, by state, or otherwise? The really scary thing is that so many of the other countries have been sold the same BS and are undergoing even more Draconian restrictions, like 2-5pm limits on excursions outside one’s home, with a 5 pm curfew!
      How did such an inane reaction spread to so many other countries? Mass hysteria! Poorly substantiated.

      • Thomas Brueckner says:

        Thanks, Ron. We were learning as we went, and hopefully haven’t stopped learning, since more and more data is coming out every day showing that about 38% of the country has antibodies to the virus–and that it’s therefore far less fatal than originally modeled. See my reply to Georgianne, above.

        Best to you and Nancy,


  • Dave & Lucy Viner says:

    Thanks Thom, Overreaction can be a typical response in human behavior, however I really liked your opening blog regarding facts vs opinion. Very true & insightful.

  • Susan Leeper says:

    Great blog, Thom. I had no idea that CDC required so much follow up and thus the reason for small number of recovered cases. I thought it never made sense. Neither did I know the suicide results from each 1% of unemployment.

    I tweeted to realdonaldtrump recently: “Testing is important work, but it should happen in parallel to the immediate resuscitation of the economy and getting people back to work. I think you have been “Stockholmed” by your public health “experts.” They are enjoying their time in the sun & power.

    • Thomas Brueckner says:

      Thanks Susan! Yes, we are stifling descent in this country, witness YouTube banning an ABC news video of a press conference by doctors in Bakersfield, CA citing data, statistics, and science! They didn’t have any problem with the W.H.O.’s misinformation early on, and didn’t ban each of the statements that Fauci made in error, even in early March. Truth will out, but not before these idiots try to destroy the economy.

      So sorry to hear about WFP. I’ll miss David’s posts!


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