CNN laughably claims Biden is a victim of his own success, while Biden himself lashes out at Republican states for “Neanderthal thinking” and the experts recite the same tired talking points as last summer. Oh, and at least one doctor muses that we should wear masks and social distance every winter. Does anyone still think this is about the virus?
Close to 365 days to slow the spread later, Texas has finally announced an end to the statewide mask mandate and occupancy limits at restaurants that were reinstituted late last year. “Texas is in a far better position now than when I issued my last executive order back in October,” explained governor, Greg Abbott, a Republican.
He noted that business owners can continue to require masks on their premises, restrict occupancy, and impose other restrictions, but no longer by the force of the government. “It is their business, and they get to choose to operate their business the way they want to. At this time, however, people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate,” he said, even while adding, “To be clear, COVID has not suddenly disappeared.”
Texas now joins 15 states that have removed their mask mandate or never had one, Mississippi, which was harder hit by the virus, is also following suit.
Perhaps needless to say, the experts and the mainstream media weren’t happy, not at all. The Austin American Statesmen covered the story, declaring that “Public health experts and federal health officials said the move comes too early and that the coronavirus still poses a grave danger, with not enough people vaccinated to significantly slow the disease’s spread.” Of course, the new variants are all the rage in expert circles and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that they could be “somewhat resistant” to the disease.
“Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” Walensky said. “I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19.” Biden himself was much harsher, telling reporters “The last thing — the last thing — we need is the Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask. Forget it. It still matters.”
Incredibly, NPR characterized this as “uncharacteristically harsh language from Biden, who has placed a premium on civility.” Yes, less than two months into his administration and he’s calling Republicans cavemen for disagreeing with him, but there’s a premium on civility. Does anyone really believe that?
Either way, Governor Abbott’s order will be effective March 10, almost one year after the initial 15-days to slow the spread, making it extremely difficult to understand exactly what Dr. Walensky and the other experts are referring to. First, there is no hard evidence whatsoever that the people have been protected in any way by these measures. None: The virus tore through the country this winter while these mandates were all in place. What hard earned ground are they referring to and how precisely did we win it?
There were close to 40 states with mask mandates and other restrictions throughout January and February when both cases and deaths quite literally exploded. New cases averaged over 200,000 per day from about December 1 to January 15; deaths averaged around 3,000 a day or more from January 8 to February 16. Some days had well over 200,000 cases and 5,000 deaths. Moreover, there was precious little difference between states with and without mandates, even as the experts noted compliance with mask wearing had increased to record levels.
Compare the data between Texas and Florida to see for yourself. From early December to late January, Texas averaged around 20,000 cases per day with a high of 31,811, all with a mask mandate and occupancy restrictions. The case positivity rate during this period bounced around quite a bit, but was generally between 15% and 25%, around the same as the rest of the country. During that same period, Florida averaged around 13,000 cases a day with a high of 30,531 without a mask mandate and any occupancy restrictions. The case positivity rate also bounced around during that period, but never exceeded a 7-day average of 14.1%. As Texas is a larger state than Florida, adjusting for population puts the Florida average is around 17,500, still lower than Texas.
Deaths over the last 30 days tell a similar story. On February 1, Texas had a 7-day average of 310 deaths per day, Florida 177, adjusted for population that’s 239, significantly lower. Over the past 30 days, Florida has never averaged more than 177, as of Wednesday it was 132. Texas went up slightly to 317 and as of Wednesday it’s 232. In total, Florida has 145 deaths per million, Texas slightly higher at 153. The all-time leaders are New Jersey (263), New York (243), Rhode Island (238), and Massachusetts (235), all states with masks mandates and more stringent restrictions than Florida.
Who can possibly look at that data objectively and claim it was the mask mandates and social distancing measures that have won “the hard-earned ground”? The truth is: No one really knows why cases started plummeting in mid-January across the whole country, and deaths followed suit. All we know is that the case positivity rate peaked at 13.7% in mid-January and has since plummeted to 4.2%.
Some, less media championed experts, are claiming that herd immunity is finally kicking in. Dr. Martin Makary of Johns Hopkins recently wrote in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed that we’ll have heard immunity by April. “As more people have been infected, most of whom have mild or no symptoms, there are fewer Americans left to be infected,” Dr. Makary opined. “At the current trajectory, I expect Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life.”
Others obviously disagree, but the salient point for our purposes is that every state regardless of their restrictions followed this same trend of plummeting cases and deaths for whatever reason.
Translation: The experts are lying to you about the efficacy of masks and other measures, for whatever reason. I’m not going to begin to posit why, but there’s just no way around it at this point. They no longer even try to quantify the impact of mask mandates and lockdowns, they refuse to consider states without the mandates, and they are reduced to regurgitating too soon, too fast, etc. like a religious text.
If you recall, it was the same argument last summer when some states started opening up after the initial 15, then 45 days to slow the spread. Back then, Georgia was an “experiment in human sacrifice,” as The Atlantic colorfully described it, but similar was said about every (mostly) Republican governor trying to balance safety with the economy, education, and their resident’s mental health. For the record, Georgia’s deaths per million is 160, a bit higher than Florida and Texas, but far lower than the leading states.
The mainstream media is, of course, also singing the same tune this time around. CNN declared that “President Joe Biden is barreling into his first science-vs.-politics showdown with powerful Southern Republican governors, one that could define the outcome of the race to vaccinate enough Americans before variants take hold.” Biden is, of course, on the side of science. “There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we cannot let our guard down now to ensure victory is inevitable; we can’t assume that. We must remain vigilant, act fast and aggressively and look out for one another,” the President said.
Another concern voiced by CNN and their experts is that the case count is simply too high. We’re still regularly seeing over 50,000 cases a day, dramatically lower than 200,000, but still too much. What they’re not telling you, however, is the case positivity rate is the lowest it’s been in months. We haven’t seen rates close to 4% since October, and before that since June.
As we’re testing 3-4 times as many people per day compared to June, of course the case count is going to be substantially higher. This is why the positivity rate is the most important number; it’s the only way to compare previous periods. 5% has long been considered the magic threshold, recommended by the World Health Organization as the point for reopening back in May.
Well, we’re there, but the experts and the mainstream media still say it’s too soon.
Amazingly, CNN believes the problem is that Biden is a victim of his own success. I’m not kidding, “The looming openings are paradoxically a symptom of Biden’s success as confidence grows in the availability of vaccines, which have rolled out fast since he took office.” This is, of course, complete propaganda. Vaccines were rolling out at a rate of over a million a day when he took office, and all three vaccines now available were developed under Trump with orders for the doses placed long before Biden got into office, but why let facts get in the way of a good story?
CNN is also big on the experts, “But experts are warning that opening too quickly could provide the vast petri dish that new variants of Covid-19 need to thrive. Those variants are often not just more infectious, but they also could make the vaccines that are expected to pave the way out of the yearlong crisis less effective. That means that states like Texas and Mississippi, which were slow to adopt steps like mask wearing, are not just risking their own citizens but all other Americans too.”
Setting aside the notion that Texas and Missippii are risking the lives of all Americans, a quite inflammatory phrasing with Keith Olbermann actually declaring that “Texas is on the side of the virus,” this brings us to our second point about the variants. If the variants are “somewhat resistant” to the vaccine, what then?
Dr. Walensky and others are creating an entirely open-ended scenario: Reading between the lines, even after the vaccine is rolled out, fully, to all Americans, the “variants” will still be out there and we should still be locked down. As there will almost certainly be some form of variant circulating in the population for the foreseeable future, this is essentially masking today, masking tomorrow, masking forever.
In fact, that’s actually what some experts are saying. CNN analyst, Dr. Paul Offit, recently recommended that we wear masks and social distance every winter. “If we mask and social distance every winter we will see a dramatic reduction in flu which usually causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths. I wonder if that will be the lesson from this.”
Gee, I wonder what other lessons the experts will learn from this. One thing is certain: None of them will be good for our freedoms, most of them will likely not be good for our health or our children, but I guess only cavemen care about such niceties these days. Does anyone still believe this is about the virus?