Is Ronna McDaniel Ignorant or Evil?
As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, with no sign, as of this writing, of it abating, a favorite talking point among many Republicans is that Donald Trump has saved two million lives. This belief is captured in this tweet posted yesterday (!) by McDaniel:
Yeah, THIS alright. THIS is an outright lie that the Trump administration has been propagating for months. To quote Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist who co-authored a paper in March on the likely effects of Covid-19, “In total, in an unmitigated epidemic, we would predict approximately 510,000 deaths in [Great Britain] and 2.2 million in the US.” Translation: If the United States government had done nothing from the outset — and who would think that any government would do nothing? — two million deaths would result. In other words, this number was never meant to be taken as a real-world projection because it was understood that the United States government would surely make some attempt to mitigate the effect of this virus. Or to quote Jacob Sullum, “Although those horrifying numbers got a lot of attention, they were never plausible…because they were based on the clearly unrealistic premise that ‘nothing’ is done to contain, suppress, or mitigate the epidemic.”
However, this notion of doing nothing as a way to deal with the pandemic is now getting some attention by people in the Republican Party. Dr. I-don’t-know-anything-about-infectious-diseases Scott Atlas has been promulgating herd immunity, which is the idea of letting the majority of the population become infected as we protect the most vulnerable, such as those who live in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. In other words, let the virus burn out — but make sure grandma and grandpa don’t get the disease. First of all, immunity is no guarantee anyway, as nobody knows how long a person may stay immune after recovering from Covid-19. Second, as Dr. Leana Wen, a public health physician, points out, approximately two million Americans would have to die in order to reach herd immunity. So if “herd mentality,” to cite Trump’s malapropism, is…