Don't Focus on the COVID Case Numbers Anymore, Unless You Can Use Them to Attack Ron DeSantis

AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

Jennifer Rubin, honorary Assistant Press Secretary to the Biden Administration, recently decided that we shouldn’t be focused on the case numbers for COVID-19 anymore and, instead, we need to focus on hospitalizations and deaths. This was reflected in Joe Biden’s admission of defeat again the virus, where he said there is no longer a “federal solution” to the pandemic.

Several folks in the media are slowly making this shift as they have realized that the omicron variant does not appear to discriminate between vaccinated and unvaccinated when it comes to infecting someone. The severity of the cases seems largely dependent on vaccination status, but in all likelihood, we’re going to see omicron become the dominant strain in the U.S. fairly quickly (if it isn’t already).

While the case rate is going up pretty dramatically in a lot of areas around the country, the hospitalization and death rates are not moving up at the same rate, which reinforces the idea that this surge is led by a strain that is not as severe as prior strains.

In Florida, though, Democrats and political activists are asking where Ron DeSantis is as the case numbers go up. Florida has gotten a lot of coverage on social media as pictures of long lines at drive-through testing sites and rising case numbers have generated the Usual Panic among the Usual Suspects. Take this person I am reliably told is running for governor against DeSantis, for example.

I am not sure what “chaos” is happening in Florida. The testing sites are open, people are getting tested, and there are vaccination and treatment options available thanks to the groundwork DeSantis laid earlier in the pandemic than most around the country. Even the Miami Herald, which has been tough to the point of being uncharitably so to DeSantis, admits that the severe cases in Florida (hospitalizations and deaths) are not moving up at the same pace.

While COVID-19’s omicron variant pushes Florida to pandemic daily records in cases reported and has drive-thru testing lines snaking through parks and pharmacy parking lots, hospitalizations haven’t risen at the same rate — yet.

Sunday’s report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said there were 2,302 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in Florida. That’s 39 more people hospitalized than in Saturday’s report and from 245 hospitals, as opposed to the 246 hospitals in Saturday’s report.

COVID-19 patients occupy 4.27% of patient beds in those reporting hospitals, compared to 4.18% in the previous day’s reporting hospitals. Of the people hospitalized in Florida, 333 were in intensive care unit beds, a decrease of nine. That represents about 5.41% of the state’s ICU hospital beds, compared to 5.55% the previous day.

DeSantis Virus Outbreak Florida Vaccines
AP Photo/Chris O’Meara

I say all of this now to introduce Paul Krugman, who is bound and determined to remain the Wrongest Man In Media no matter the cost.

Krugman seems to just want to take a jab at DeSantis in this thread, though he admits later cases are going up everywhere. There is nothing in this thread (or any available evidence at all) that this is somehow DeSantis’ fault. But case numbers are high in Florida, so while high case numbers aren’t a bad thing for Joe Biden, they apparently are for Republican governors.

Because science, I suppose.

All of the people who are going after Republican governors like DeSantis are doing so largely because they are still caught in the grip of fear over the virus, despite the evidence that the worst of it has passed. We’re at the point now where the virus is probably going to be around forever (like the flu), will have yearly vaccines available to fight it (like the flu), and isn’t a death sentence (like the flu).

But there are people cherry-picking certain big numbers to continue to terrify us. Why do you think the lines at Florida test sites are so long? Why do you think asymptomatic people are flooding emergency rooms in Vermont? It’s not because they are actually showing symptoms of severe infection. It’s because they are getting sniffly and panicking as they were instructed to do by the media.

Because as much as the science shows is supposed to be what we’re looking at, strictly following the data doesn’t get eyeballs glued to your messaging. And that’s great for building up your audience, but if you’re a Democrat or someone in the media, you’re actually hurting Joe Biden and undermining his administration when you focus on all the wrong things.

But, hey, at least you got to terrify people and attack a Republican governor. Right?