Candace Owens, of PragerU, speaks before President Donald Trump arrives during the Young Black Leadership Summit at the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
There is no shortage of misinformation about the COVID-19 outbreak. Many high-profile individuals on both the left and the right have reacted to the spread of the disease by either predicting the apocalypse or treating it like it’s a common case of the flu.
One prominent right-leaning pundit seems to have embraced the “it’s not a big deal” trope when it comes to the coronavirus. Over the past week or so, Blexit founder Candace Owens posted a series of tweets that appear to downplay the spread of the disease.
Owens seems to be trying to counter the frantic and hysterical response of the progressive media, who are trying desperately to convince us that we’re all going to die. However, in her attempt to debunk the left’s doomsday narrative, she has wandered into the realm of misinformation.
For starters, Owens seemed to promote the idea that hospitals might be artificially inflating the numbers. This is similar to another conspiracy theory that Diamond and Silk put forth last week about the media exaggerating the number of deaths. It seems to be a question that is becoming more common on the right. She recently tweeted the following two posts:
This is exactly what the article states. That if any person dies with the virus in their system, they are required to record it as Covid-19 death. They do not have the same requirement if person dies with flu in their symptom. https://t.co/YoWGu82Vgi
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) March 29, 2020
The number one killer in America is Heart disease. 1,002 people a day.
Did you know that if you die from heart disease right now, and they determine you to be an asymptomatic carrier of Covid-19 in your post-Mortem, they legally add your death to the #Coronavirus death toll?
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) March 29, 2020
Owens appears to be implying that the number of deaths that resulted from COVID-19 is being artificially inflated. According to this theory, doctors are required to attribute a death to the coronavirus if the person had been infected by the disease, even if they are not exhibiting symptoms.
The implication is that these individuals are being counted as coronavirus deaths even if the illness did not cause the fatality. But this isn’t the case.
I spoke with Dr. Michael Zgoda, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Medical Director at Atrium Health, to gain insight from an actual medical professional. He explained how doctors determine whether or not a death is related to COVID-19.
“The question being asked is if COVID-19 was something that somebody died from, or was it something that someone died with. If a person is hit by a bus and is also COVID-19 positive, he is NOT considered a COVID19 death. However, if a person has multiple medical problems, say heart disease for example, and he is admitted to an ICU because he cannot breathe, but subsequently expires from a heart attack, the primary cause of death is listed as acute myocardial infarction with the secondary cause as COVID-19.”
Zgoda also further explained how the virus would cause the death of the person in this hypothetical scenario. “This is counted by national standards as a death attributed to COVID-19 because, if the patient did not have COVID-19, he would not have had a respiratory failure, which ultimately taxed his ailing heart leading to a heart attack,” he said.
The doctor continued, stating that, “People that are dying from COVID usually have other underlying medical problems such as diabetes, COPD, cardiovascular disease, cancer, etc. These diseases remove any physiologic reserve a person may have. Therefore, the virus puts the body under profound stress. If the body is weak, the extreme physiologic stress put on the body can surpass the limited reserves a person has causing someone to die.“
There you have it. The deaths that have occurred from underlying health conditions are being labeled as COVID-19 deaths because the virus causes a level of stress on the victim’s body that its organs cannot keep up with, not because of some covert initiative to inflate the number of coronavirus deaths.
Another statistical outlier— Sweden.
Still no lockdown. First case confirmed on February 4th. Just 110 deaths.
“But it’s 10 times more deadly than the flu, bro! If we don’t stay locked inside there will be MILLIONS of deaths!” https://t.co/gzqBHKFSGk
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) March 30, 2020
Another popular myth is that COVID-19 is “just the flu,” or that it is not more of a threat than the flu. Even though President Donald Trump has declared the pandemic a national emergency and has repeatedly stated that the coronavirus is a serious matter, there are still many on the right claiming that the disease is just a slightly harsher version of the flu.
I asked Dr. Zgoda about this all-too-common myth, and he explained why it’s not accurate. “That would be true if the flu were fives times more transmissible (contagious) and ten times more lethal,” he clarified. “In the United States and elsewhere, the expected mortality overall will likely be around 4 – 6%.”
He continued, describing the differences between COVID-19 and other afflictions. “As a frontline provider that took care of H1N1 influenza patients and COVID-19 patients, I can tell you that COVID-19 patients are a very different breed,” he said. “We had Tamiflu to treat the flu, which was relatively effective, and we have nothing proven to work for COVID-19. Also, H1N1 cases came in slowly over six months, while COVID is hitting us all at once, with each patient having an average 2-week hospital stay vs. an average hospital stay of five days with the flu.”
Also, Owens seems to imply that Sweden’s approach to the virus demonstrates that social distancing isn’t necessary and that the virus isn’t more deadly than the flu. However, recent reports reveal just the opposite on both counts. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who took a more liberal approach to address the outbreak, expressed dire concerns about the spread of the infection in an interview with Dagens Nyheter.
The prime minister stated that the nation could be facing “thousands” of deaths from COVID-19. Lofven also indicated that the crisis could continue for months, and not weeks. Up until this point, the Swedish government has not taken any social distancing measures, nor has the population done so on its own. Perhaps Sweden isn’t the prime example of dealing with the virus that some have believed.
There are several other displays of misinformation on both the left and the right regarding the coronavirus, and I’ll be addressing those in other articles. But while the nation continues to deal with the outbreak, it is vital to keep the pandemic in the proper perspective.
As I’ve argued before, progressives are exaggerating the impact of the virus because they wish to use it as a political weapon against the Trump administration. Even though it is the responsibility of the states to protect its citizens, they are trying to convince the American public that anything negative that occurs is the president’s fault. Hell, they’re even working on another coronavirus race-baiting narrative to use against the right.
On the right, we have many like Candace Owens, who are trying to persuade their followers to believe the illness is not much of an issue and that we should not take precautions to slow the spread of the virus. The truth is in the middle: We don’t need to panic, but it makes sense to take action to prevent the issue from worsening further.
Let me know what you think in the comments below!
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