If you are following the news about the COVID-19 virus closely – and how could you not with the endless and repetitious coverage – you hear a lot about those epidemiological “models.” In many ways, they seem more confusing than enlightening. That is partially due to the fact that there are a lot of different ones out there.
Our nation’s premier medical advisors, Dr. Anthony Fauci, best explained modeling. He said, “They will all be wrong, but some may be useful.”
As a current resident of Florida, Dr. Fauci’s statement reminded me of all those hurricane models that we see on the news with each approaching hurricane. At the front edge, the various models expressed as conical lines on the map –often described as spaghetti strings – are widely divergent. They are not very predictive until the weather monster is close to shore. We do not know if it will hit Florida – or the Carolinas or meander through the Gulf to hit Texas or Louisiana. No reason to put up the hurricane shutters until the storm is within a couple of miles. As Dr. Fauci suggests, they are always wrong.
A few weeks ago, the models varied widely – very widely. One suggested that more than 2 million Americans would potentially die. Others saw a death rate of less than 100,000. Even though President Trump was been roundly – and unfairly – criticized for the hopeful optimism in January, he was actually saying the same thing as Dr. Fauci at the time. Since that does not fit with the elitist media’s anti-Trump narrative, Dr. Fauci’s statements on videos are never seen on CNN or MSNBC. It is all about controlling the narrative.
More recently, the number of prospective deaths has been reduced to approximately 80,000 and again later at 60,000 — based on the current models.
There are two reasons why the public was pushed to the edge of panic by the models. In the first place, there were no past models to draw upon. There were no piles of data upon which to base any sort of expectations. In such a situation, the modeling will create unrealistic projections – often the worst of the worst-case scenarios.
The second reason for excessive public anxiety is due to press coverage. One of the evergreen characteristics of the news media is sensationalism. Yep! It is in the DNA of newsies to exaggerate. That is how they get our attention. They will seize on the worst projections.
This natural tendency to sensationalize is magnified by a huge political bias – compounded by a visceral hatred of President Trump, personally. The anti-Trump spin has accelerated to the speed of one of those cartoon whirling dervishes.
That is why – as bad as the COVID-19 pandemic is – it is not nearly as bad as the press would have us believe. Sixty-thousand lives to lose is a lot, but nothing near the 2 million figure that was used in fearmongering news reports.
Despite the efforts of the media to hype the stories for professional and political reasons, the odds of any one of us contracting the virus is relatively low. If we do, there is an 80 percent chance that we will have a mild case – not needing medical intervention. And if we do come down with a more serious case, the odds of surviving it are rather high. Those statistics are not based on abstract speculative models, but on actual data.
It looks like the current situation will go on for at least a couple more weeks, but we can be happy that the actual statistics will not be anywhere the scary model-based and politically motivated projections.
So, there ‘tis.