When facts matter

By Reade Brower | May 28, 2020

When an agenda costs more than 54,000 lives, what must be said?

The fact that at the end of February experts said COVID-19 was an epidemic, while on Feb. 26, President Donald Trump said, and this is a quote, the number of coronavirus cases was “going very substantially down, not up.” A statement that was simply not true and not based on scientific data or facts.

Two weeks later on March 10, as Trump often does, he “doubled down” telling Americans “It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

He continued to downplay it, telling Americans it would disappear when warm weather came, while supporting conspiracy theories it was a Democratic hoax and any other story that worked into his narrative, reassuring Americans we had nothing to worry about.

The fact Trump downplayed the virus cannot be disputed if your belief system is rooted in facts. There are numerous quotes where he said that very thing and now, with history as our witness, his theory has been proven false and his lack of leadership exposed.

What can be quantified, but not verified, is the number of deaths Trump’s denial of reality cost in terms of American lives. According to research done by Columbia University, if the U.S. had begun policies of social distancing one week earlier, 36,000 lives would have been saved. If two weeks earlier, 54,000 lives spared.

Instead, with Trump leading the parade, the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, told his city residents to “get out on the town despite coronavirus” as late as mid-March.

Now, even as the curve flattens and states begin to open up, Trump continues to downplay his own administration's guidelines by refusing to wear a mask in situations where administration guidelines mandate it.

How many lives that will cost us is not part of any study, but common sense suggests his attitudes and lack of leading by example will cause more cases and many more deaths. One has to remember every case of COVID-19 gets multiplied exponentially.

The Columbia study was based on empirical information and there is no way to confirm the “what if” hypothesis that was the genesis of their study. They looked at data, and used science, comparing areas where the virus was contained by social distancing, lock downs, and quarantines early on, and then determined the “cause and effect” of not doing so. Countries like South Korea and Vietnam, along with the city of San Francisco and states like Washington, had lower infection rates, and much lower deaths per thousand than other parts of the U.S. that continued to ignore COVID-19 under the direction of Trump, who downplayed the virus.

While Trump continues to “sugar coat,” desperately wanting the economy to reopen, regardless of the ramifications of lives lost, the facts and data should drive the discussions. With the death count about to go over 100,000 at this writing, Trump argues the number of deaths is overstated, providing no proof to his statement. Many experts dispute him saying that view is pie-in-the-sky.

The bottom line is Trump’s dangerous behavior is not based on data or the reality of the situation, but rather on his own desires to rev up the economy in time for fall elections.

As testing becomes more available and more viable, the end of the pandemic will happen but speeding it along, for political advantage, isn’t an approach based on humanity.

Continually trying to distort our ability to fight the coronavirus, or his attempts to play doctor by prescribing medicines that are untested and unproven, will continue to exacerbate the problem, not solve it.

A task force led by Vice President Mike Pence has been ineffective and their daily briefings seem more like pep rallies to pump up their president, who feeds off them and the praises written into every speaker's talking points.

While incompetence is not measurable and subjective, one needs only to look at the facts about our lack of quality testing and the rapid spread to create judgment. As Trump continues his go-to strategies of deflection and blame (this is now all Obama’s fault), Americans continue to get sick and die as Trump tells us, in every news conference, what a great job he is doing.

The fact that he disbanded the pandemic response unit is indisputable, yet he blames his predecessor because that serves a purpose.

“This too shall pass” has history on its side, but at what cost? What was the human life count of Trump’s doubling down and making believe all was well, when data and science didn’t back it up?

As vaccines are developed and testing becomes more available, we will see a decline in cases and an eventual end to the pandemic. Until then, we must demand the truth and that needs to be based on the facts.

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” — Arthur Conan Doyle, physician and writer (1859-1930)

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Comments (10)
Posted by: Darren Hickey | Jun 02, 2020 21:36

Don’t believe the number? Simple enough.


Show me the 54,000 US lives that were lost due to unavailability of care.


Show me the 54,000 US lives that would not have contracted this virus.


Show me anything but devoutly accepting the unsubstantiated claims of the “educated guessers” who have been so astronomically wrong in their predictions that it boggles the mind that anyone gives any credence to their latest Chicken Little hair-on-fire doom-and-gloom “look-at-me-I’m-a-scientist” proclamations.


As a journalist, questioning the “experts” would serve your readership better than paying them fealty, especially in consideration of their well-documented track record of exaggerated claims and grossly inaccurate predictions.



Posted by: Reade Brower | Jun 02, 2020 21:18

What sources might that be? Listening to Dr. Fauci has been a consistent way to look at this for me. Assimilating all the science and data better than debunking one source and those predictions were based on doing nothing to contain the virus, hard to quantify an unknown but not sure what that has to do with the truth. So if you don't buy that 54,000 lives could have been saved, what is the number? Commonsense tells us that lives were saved and logic suggests that number is a reasonable guess (yes, it is a guess) based on the data. The premise is that Trump downplaying it (saying it didn't exist and then that it would just magically go away) cost a lot of lives - that is the take away.

Posted by: Darren Hickey | Jun 02, 2020 20:13

Like every other number thrown about, the “lives that could have been saved” is 100% imagination.


The fact of the matter is, viruses do what viruses do. They can be slowed, as was done by the imposition of arguably draconian measures, relieving the health care systems of being overwhelmed by hospitalization needs that could not be met.


Yet the health care systems were not overwhelmed. No one died for want of availability of medical treatment.


Echoing the latest hysterical prognostications from the same sources who gave us estimates of 2.2 million US deaths does not a compelling argument make.

Posted by: Reade Brower | Jun 02, 2020 13:57

There is certainly an argument to be shared about the cure being worse than the disease but conspiracy theories and misstating facts don't help the argument. I read that the number of deaths in the United States is around 35,000 annually from the flu. COVID-19 has killed 105,000 (and counting) in 3 months (and that is with preventative measures that make it different from apples-to-apples comparisons with the flu). Finding a balance that sits on commonsense makes more sense than inflammatory and sarcastic comments dismissing this pandemic. That's where leadership comes in; we have had very little of that from our President who continues to create narratives that have no basis in science and confuses the situation, rather than helping it.

Posted by: Patricia Keyes | Jun 02, 2020 13:19

Reade, there's this dangerous and horrible disease that is going to kill 100% of us! Not just 00.2%, that's 2/10ths of 1%, like only 20% of one person in a hundred, like Covid does (with a more than 99% survival rate), and kills half as many people as the yearly flu bugs. This terrible disease is coming for all of us, and we don't know when it will happen. There's only one Great Physician with a cure, but most people don't take wise advice, deluding themselves into thinking they can cure themselves. Not only that, but they actively silence folks who want to share how to avoid this certain death, ridiculing them publicly, censoring their ideas and banning them from living as free people in one way or another with insidious "rules" and "policies" designed to harass them.

In the meantime, the foundational purpose of our lives on the physical plane revolves around acquiring food to eat, so that we may see yet another day. Not all people are farmers, but we all ultimately find something we can do to trade for what farmers work very hard to produce -- OUR FOOD. If you work in an office typing, you are typing, ultimately, for food. If you are a construction worker or a CEO, you are working in the end for food. Without food? What use do you have for a home or clothing?

An economic "system," like the ecosystem, or the food chain, or the water cycle, DEPENDS ON MOVEMENT. CONSTANT MOVEMENT. You cannot stop the cycle, or you cause famine, and recovery takes years, maybe decades.

IF we do NOT WORK, then the farmers take the first hit. Their efforts this year, perhaps 40% of what was planted in preparation for sales to restaurants, has grown past picking and spoiled in the fields. They have literally had to plow the money they spent on seed into the ground. NO PAYMENT for the food they grew was forthcoming. THEREFORE, there will be no money to buy NEW SEED. I have talked with a rancher who is facing the reality that he may have to shoot hundreds of his beef cattle because the cannot feed them past the date when they were to be butchered and sold to the restaurants. Someone should come up with an online platform as slick as Zoom.us to connect smaller local slaughter houses to these big ranchers and to customers as well, ASAP.  There's a tip for a business that will make a lot of money for you! The thought of 300,000 pigs destroyed for no other reason than the temporary lack of employees due to a covid outbreak at a single slaughterhouse is UNTHINKABLE. Send the National Guard in to help right there! But don't close businesses!!

If you have the physical ability to grow a victory garden this year, you would be well advised to do so. And get your canning needs early. You are about to experience what my grandparents lived thru in the Great Depression. And all this was NEEDLESSLY FORCED ON US BY BAD LEADERSHIP, and not Trump leadership, either.

Those who are sick or susceptible to lung illness, should quarantine. That makes sense. And there's plenty of people who can run to the market once a week for them. Shame on any local pastor of any local church who can't find one person in their midst per quarantined person to go to the store for an hour. Since sunlight kills germs in less than 2 minutes, the packages can be left in the sun on a porch, or inside on the floor by a window. Problem solved.

NEVER has this kind of deliberately imposed shut down of work been attempted in human history for any outbreak, not even the Spanish Flu. You can't stop working! Babies need changing. Animals need feeding. Lawns must be mowed to hold back fleas and ticks. Houses must be repainted so they don't become water-damaged. Life is risk. Every day, knowing that I could die in a car accident, I take that risk and I drive to do my necessary work and errands. Every day, we eat such things in mass quantities as Big Macs, ice cream and chewing gum with questionable additives risking that we will survive it for the temporary sustenance or pleasure. And we do! We live on!

If we do not work, not only will our nation struggle for decades to recover, but the ENTIRE WORLD's economies will collapse, and they have much more to lose. We set the standards. We have brought the world's most desperately poor people out of abject misery in astounding numbers in third world countries around the globe in just the last 7 yrs! If we do not buy their goods, or sell necessary supplies and equipment to them, they cannot work either. And the entire house of cards collapses. Why?

Because non-governmental organizations (NGO's) and the heads of multinational corporations have figured out how to seize entire nations! First, they offer loans and bail-outs until a nation is floating in debt they are not making enough revenue to repay the compounding interest. Their NGOs, set up to teach undefined goodness that satisfies their cronies' list of grant requisites, with corporate names like "Center for the Spread of Democracy" actually teach tearing down the legitimate government of the country they're set up in. Instead of 

They get billions in government funding from sources like Hillary Clinton's State Department, exactly as they did in Ukraine, to hire violent demonstrators, and purchase the bricks and bats to use, to smash private property, and attack law enforcement in large crowds, masquerading as "peaceful protestors". This was the "Arab Spring". Some "freedom movement" that was!

When they have so confused the average citizen that they don't know who to trust, the owner of the NGO [cough cough, George Soros, cough] guides his bribed cronies into office in place of people who were generally decent people though we can all agree they had serious administrative problems, but at least they weren't genocidal. The economy is collapsed into a debtor nation and all tax money and personal property are controlled by the bank involved. All human rights and opportunity are then denied citizens held as collateral under the actually illegal guise of an imposed crony "government". This is theft of a nation on a grand scale. This is slavery by purchase, not by duly elected representative law making or a vote of the people.

This is happening here now.

Posted by: Harry Fitzgerald | May 30, 2020 18:34

Very well said Mr. Brower.

Nancy Fitzgerald

Posted by: Alan Charles Pickering | May 29, 2020 13:30

Trying to convince a trump lover that The Donald May have some human inadequacies is like trying to teach a pig to sing, it can’t be done and only annoys the pig.

Posted by: Robert M Rosenberg | May 29, 2020 08:12

Well put Reade although Trump’s minions will cry, “fake news,” even as they get sick and possibly die.

Posted by: Kevin Riley | May 28, 2020 08:41


Three are some that frequent these discussions that are going rationalize, sugar coat, deny and reject ever factual point you have made.  One even said Trump is doing an admirable job. I can't even comprehend that statement when faced with the reality of the situation we are in.  
Trump is playing the victim in all of this as evident by his pubic statements and tweets.
This is truly a sad day in America when we have a president that can't, or won't, see the reality of our situation. To him, America is the economy and stock market not the American people.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | May 28, 2020 07:56

When turning on my computer this morning I could not believe the posting that discredited the CDC, Dr. Fauci and all we are doing to contain this virus. I immediately reported it as false news. It is some of the strategy to maintain the political element in charge and is why so many refuse to wear masks. Dangerous.

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