Fearmongering v.2021

It feels like we’re in the abyss right now, sinking toward the bottom,” said Dr. John Swartzberg of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. “We’re not going to sort of get some balance in our lives again until probably sometime in February.

Sound familiar?

Is it true?

Gavin Newsom set December’s shutdown on ICU capacity—making shutdowns mandatory when ICU occupancy exceeded 85%

But using hospital data without context of prior years is just fear-mongering, and for Newsom, the 85% number provided a failsafe measure to achieve total lockdowns.

Anecdotally, a friend who has been an ICU nurse in California for 10 years says ICUs are always full in December. Yet, oddly, she also reports that this is the first year they have had no flu cases.

LA County hospital bed occupancy for December tracked below the December 2019 average. And remember that 2019 was a relatively light flu season.

Dr. Brad Spellberg, Chief Medical Officer at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, a widely-quoted COVID fear-mongerer has also admitted, “we typically run well above 90% of our ICU beds occupancy because we’re such a busy trauma center.”

Doctors and hospitals have incentives to self-report the need for more money and resources. If hospitals are overwhelmed, where is the independent evidence? Where are investigative news reporters going into hospitals to confirm? The large San Francisco hospital I visited in December was virtually empty. Others in the state are completely shuttered.

Where are the field hospitals? Hospital ships?

Does anyone remember this: “Hospitals Overwhelmed by Flu Patients Are Treating Them in Tents” (Time, Jan. 18, 2018)

I don’t recall any calls for us all to stay home in 2018—do you? I don’t even remember seeing news stories as the above. No, life went on as normal.

Why aren’t people dying from the flu this year?

The CDC reports a total of 101 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations occurring between October 1, 2020 and December 26, 2020. The CDC also reports 1 pediatric death from flu this year.

What about this CDC chart:

Here are last year’s numbers (again, a relatively mild year):
• 410,000 to 740,000 hospitalizations
• 24,000 to 62,000 deaths
• 195 pediatric deaths

Numbers for death “with” COVID are being mixed with death “from” COVID, and the adage regarding lies, damn lies, and statistics is geometrically true when government money and pressure is added.

By now, it’s quite clear that shutdowns and masks do not impact infection rates. Across states and countries, shutdowns and mask usage have not correlated with cases or deaths: surges have occurred in states and countries with as well as without mandates.

If shutdowns and masks worked, California, which has been under the most draconian shutdown and mask mandates for months, would not now be “surging” with the “worst COVID-19 spread in the U.S.”—unless of course those scofflaws Governor Newsom, Senator Pelosi, and Mayor London Breed are responsible for the spread.

In a world of diverse individuals, a 1-size-fits-all response makes absolutely no sense and does not work. The elderly and unhealthy are at higher risk for COVID than the younger and healthier. In San Francisco, three times as many people died of drug overdoses in 2020 than COVID. U.S. children are projected to have lost years of their lives from the closing of schools. Other individuals have seen suicide, murder, and domestic violence claim greater numbers of their lives than COVID would have.

Fear-mongering and virtue-signaling do not save lives. Individuals accurately assessing and managing their own relative risks saves lives.

Leviathan thrives on fear and information is its enemy. We all need to unleash more of its enemy.

Mary L. G. Theroux is Chairman and Chief Executive of the Independent Institute.
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