Virus outbreaks force the media to face reality: it never disappeared

Forget the second wave. The first wave is still flooding us.

The evidence can no longer be denied as coronavirus outbreaks emerge in all kinds of places, in cities and towns large and small.

We are all fed up with social estrangement, being largely confined to our homes and apartments, and yet the virus doesn’t care. Here we are at the end of June, when some thought that the warm weather could buy us a long breather, and COVID-19 still has a considerable hit.


“A disturbing increase in infections,” said Anthony Fauci at Hill on Tuesday.

The latest turn of events poses a tough challenge for journalists and politicians alike.

The media, which were understandable in the 24-hour mode on the virus, frankly got tired of the story. It’s repetitive and, well, a little depressing. When the protests of police brutality broke out, the media dropped the virus like a hot potato and rarely mentioned the risks of crowded protests (unlike the Donald Trump rally in Oklahoma). When the number of deaths in the United States exceeded 100,000, that milestone was completely overshadowed.

We are now past 119,000 deaths, and 2.2 million cases total, and the press is gradually acknowledging the magnitude of a story that never really disappeared. While things have improved significantly in New York City, where, not coincidentally, the national media are based, that’s not true in many areas. And since the protests have faded somewhat, more airtime is available for COVID-19.

As of Monday, the New York Times reports, “Known virus cases rose in 23 states Monday as prospects worsened across much of the nation’s south and west. Coronavirus hospitalizations reached their highest levels. high so far in the pandemic in Arizona and Texas, and Missouri reported its highest single-day case totals over the weekend. Although much of the Northeast and Midwest continued to improve, there were signs of a new spread in Ohio, where case numbers began to rise after weeks of improvement, and in Pennsylvania, where several counties have had a disturbing number of cases. “


What is surprising, and makes the story less abstract, is the sheer variety of these virus clusters: a Pentecostal church in Oregon. A strip club in Wisconsin. A nightlife district near Louisiana State University. A Christian summer camp near Colorado Springs.

One reason coverage had been in the background until the past few days is that Trump had spent less time talking about the virus. Once the televised coronavirus briefings ended, it became clear that he wanted to reopen the economy as a more optimistic electoral message, followed by his emphasis on law and order after the riots that followed the assassination of George Floyd.

The reopening debate was extremely politicized between the left and the right, and obviously the country cannot be closed indefinitely after 40 million people lost their jobs. But reopening always carried inherent risks, exacerbated by many younger people who gather in groups without masks, as if they were invulnerable.

The president tweeted Tuesday that “the fake news” is not giving him enough credit for the successes of the coronavirus, “but they do give Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is with us in every way, a very high approval rating of the 72% “.

The national media is so focused on Trump that if he doesn’t wear a mask or accuse the governors of being too slow to lift the closure restrictions, that’s a great story; if it’s just an increase in certain states or regions, not so much. Criticism of Joe Biden’s coronavirus is also short.

In that regard, the press criticized Trump for saying at Saturday’s rally, in what the White House later said was a joke, that it had told its people to do less testing to keep the numbers down. But on Tuesday, the president told reporters that “I’m not kidding,” adding that the evidence is a double-edged sword.

“We have the best testing program anywhere in the world. We taste better than anyone else in the world. Our tests are the best in the world, and we have most of them. By having more tests, we found more cases. “Fauci told a House panel that the task force was never asked to slow down the tests.

Public health experts say the recent increase in cases reflects more than just a greater number of Americans being tested. Fauci said he was concerned last week when 30,000 new infections were found in one day.

The media cannot base its decisions on whether politicians choose to focus on the virus or not. The recent series of stories about whether COVID-19 will return this fall has been overtaken by events. Although we all long for a return to the old normal, the press must aggressively cover the new normal, which does not seem to be fading anytime soon.