On covid, focus should be on seriousness of illness, mortality rate, not cases. Plus, fun with 'Snerdley,' Abrams, Medved.

By Gary Abernathy

Covid: What matters are factors not highlighted enough

It seems like many in the U.S. media have returned to covid alarmist mode, with front page headlines screaming about “growing alarm” or “increasing concerns” among some health and government officials. Among the objectives seems to be forcing people everywhere to wear masks again, in some cases whether you’re vaccinated or not. Too often, the focus is on cases. More important than cases are severity of illness, hospitalizations and the mortality rate. Those stats are not tracking with new cases.

Let’s be clear, the rise in covid cases, including the Delta variant, is small compared to covid when it was at its worst at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, right before the vaccines became available. But you have to seek out charts and graphs to know that. Even most of our Big Media outlets include such tracking charts, which paint a different picture than many of the headlines. Here’s one from the New York Times. The latest 7-day average is about 50,000 cases per day. Yes, that’s about four times as much as a month ago. But it pales in comparison to the 250,000 cases per day earlier this year. And what’s most important is that hospitalizations and deaths are not increasing much.

Even the Times’ graphic includes a note saying, “Cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain well below peak levels, and the three approved vaccines remain effective against the virus. About 97 percent of hospitalized coronavirus patients have not been vaccinated.” Right — and even counting the unvaccinated, “cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain well below peak levels,” as the Times noted, and which cannot be stressed enough. That’s good news. That’s what matters most.

We all understand that some people have underlying conditions that make them especially leery of covid. I’m a big fan of giving people all the latest information about covid, and then letting Americans decide how to respond. We should encourage vaccinations. The fact is, vaccinated people are overwhelmingly protected from the unvaccinated. As adults, we do not need mask mandates, and we should decide for our own families whether our children need them. Anyone who feels like masks are effective and are afraid to go out without one should wear a mask. If you want to be vaccinated and also wear a mask, have at it. Either way, according to the science, you will be as safe as can reasonably be expected, even among the unvaccinated and unmasked. (Nothing in life is 100 percent safe, so if you’re looking for something close to that, never leave the house.)

I am not among Dr. Anthony Fauci’s biggest fans. I think he changes his tune every other time he’s interviewed. But for those who hang on Fauci’s every word — or at least every word he said last time you heard him — consider his interview with NPR earlier this month:

Addressing those concerns in an interview Thursday with NPR's All Things Considered, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said studies continue to show that vaccines are not only effective against the virus, they're also highly effective at preventing serious disease or hospitalization. "No matter what study you look at, the protection against severe disease leading to hospitalization is always well within the 90%, regardless of the study, regardless of the country," Fauci said. That's just part of the reason why, he said, it's so crucially important to get vaccinated. "It's so easy to get vaccinated. Viruses don't mutate if they can't replicate, and you can prevent them from replicating by vaccinating enough people so that the virus has nowhere to go," said Fauci, who is also chief medical adviser to President Biden.

For the vaccinated,the protection against severe disease leading to hospitalization is always well within the 90%, regardless of the study, regardless of the country," Fauci said. Protection against severe disease from what? From covid. From where? From the unvaccinated. Vaccinated people are protected — or as protected as science can ever achieve.

I urge people to get vaccinated, but I respect their right not to do so. The sentiment that “if you don’t care about yourself, at least do what’s necessary to protect everyone else” could be applied to almost anything to force half of America to behave the way the other half wants. Stop shaming people, or treating Americans like sheep or test subjects in a laboratory. A “one-size-fits-all” approach is disastrous. Some places may need more stringent, short-term measures, while others are fine without them. Treat people like adults — give us the information we need so each person, each family, each community can decide how to proceed, as Americans with rights and liberties should be able to do.

Latest WaPo piece led to some enjoyable interviews

My piece last week in the Washington Post, headlined, “Stop insulting Trump voters and their concerns. Talk to them.” led to 11,000 reader “comments,” which I seldom read because they tend to be so over-the-top negative toward conservative writers, and maybe a couple of hundred emails, which I do read because most (although not all) of them tend to be more civil than the online comments.

It also led to invitations to be on a number of radio shows and podcasts, three of which I did Friday and Saturday, and a couple more lined up for later this week. The three shows were interesting because each host came from a different perspective — one left-leaning, one a conservative Never Trumper, and one a conservative pro-Trumper.

First up was Dan Abrams’ show on Sirius XM. Most of you know Dan from his many TV appearances as a legal analyst over the years. He is currently ABC News’ chief legal analyst. His politics and mine are different on most issues, but we agree on the need for civility. I spent the better part of an hour talking with Dan and taking listener calls. Really enjoyed it. Here it is.

Next was Michael Medved, longtime movie critic and conservative writer, and a longtime critic of Donald Trump’s. Again, we had a fun, respectful back and forth. Check it out.

On Saturday morning, I was on WABC radio with James “Bo Snerdley” Golden, best known as Rush Limbaugh’s legendary producer. James made it clear he’s still in Trump’s corner. He asked good questions, and it was an enjoyable interview. Here it is.

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