The following is a news analysis.
What a difference a year makes. Around this time last year:
- Vaccine propagandist Dr. Peter Hotez made the case against travel bans
- Dr. Anthony Fauci said there was no reason to walk around wearing masks
- New York City's Health Commissioner urged people to go to crowded places and busy restaurants
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) encouraged people to get out and be around others in San Francisco's Chinatown
And one year ago, the World Health Organization gave what many scientist called confusing guidance on wearing masks for Covid-19.
World Health Organization, March 19, 2020: “Wearing medical masks when not indicated may result in unnecessary costs and procurement burdens and create a false sense of security that can lead to the neglect of other essential measures, such as hand hygiene practices. Further, using a mask incorrectly may hamper its effectiveness in reducing the risk of transmission.”
It was just ten days after Dr. Anthony Fauci stated, on March 8, “there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.”
Dr. Fauci also, notoriously, testified to Congress that coronavirus was ten times deadlier than flu about the same time he published a scientific paper that said something quite different: Covid’s lethality was akin to a bad flu season.
President Trump’s ban on travel from China had been installed January 31 when there had only been a few confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the U.S.
Here's a look back at some of the most notable statements made by public officials from January through March 31, 2020.
Some of the comments, guidance, and reflections proved accurate in the long run; some did not. Some seem to have long been forgotten or deposited down the selective memory hole.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Coronavirus Task Force, Jan. 21, 2020: “This is not a major threat to the people in the United States and it is not something that the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about.”
Kaiser Health News, Jan. 24, 2020: "Something Far Deadlier Than The Wuhan Virus Lurks Near You"
William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, Jan. 24, 2020: "When we think about the relative danger of this new coronavirus and influenza ... coronavirus will be a blip on the horizon in comparison.”
Dr. Oxiris Barbot, New York City health commissioner, Jan. 27, 2020: People “who had recently traveled from Wuhan were not being urged to self-quarantine or avoid large public gatherings.” “There is no reason not to take the subway, not to take the bus, not to go out to your favorite restaurant, and certainly not to miss the parade next Sunday.”
“As we gear up to celebrate the #LunarNewYear [Chinatown parade] in NYC, I want to assure New Yorkers that there is no reason for anyone to change their holiday plans, avoid the subway, or certain parts of the city because of #coronavirus…We are here today to urge all New Yorkers to continue to live their lives as usual.”
“…there’s no risk at this point in time…about having it be transmitted in casual contact, right?” “The risk to New Yorkers for Coronavirus is low, and our preparedness as a city is very high.”
Wired, Robert Dingwall, Jan. 29, 2020: "We should deescalate the war on coronavirus."
NPR, Allison Aubrey, Jan 29, 2020: "Worried about catching the new coronavirus? In the U.S., the flu is a bigger threat."
Buzzfeed, Dan Vergano, Jan. 29, 2020: "Don’t worry about the coronavirus, worry about the flu."
Axios, Bob Herman, Jan. 29, 2020: "Why we panic about coronavirus but not the flu...If you’re freaking out about coronavirus but you didn’t get a flu shot, you’ve got it backwards.”
LA Times, Soumya Karlamangla, Jan. 31, 2020: For Americans, flu remains a bigger threat than coronavirus. “…unlike the coronavirus, which so far hasn’t led to any deaths in the U.S., influenza has killed approximately 10,000 Americans since October, according to federal data released Friday.” “…a much deadlier killer already stalking the United States has been largely overshadowed: the flu.”
University of California Riverside epidemiologist Brandon Brown, Jan. 31, 2020: “Here in the U.S., [flu] is what is killing us…Why should we be afraid of something that has not killed people here in this country?” “I think we need to shift our attention back to the flu.”
The Washington Post, Lenny Bernstein, Feb. 1, 2020: "Get a Grippe, America. The flu is a much bigger threat than coronavirus, for now."
Mayor of Florence Dario Nardella, Feb. 2, 2020: Suggested residents hug Chinese people to encourage them in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
The Washington Post, Wendy Parmet and Michael Sinha, Feb. 3, 2020: "Why we should be wary of the aggressive government response to coronavirus"
Oxiris Barbot, New York City health commissioner, Feb. 3, 2020: “We are encouraging New Yorkers to go about their everyday lives and suggest practicing everyday precautions that we do through the flu season.”
New York Times, Rosie Spinks, Feb. 5, 2020: "Who Says It’s Not Safe to Travel to China? The coronavirus travel ban is unjust and doesn’t work anyway." “The coronavirus outbreak seems defined by two opposing forces: the astonishing efficiency with which the travel industry connects the world and a political moment dominated by xenophobic rhetoric and the building of walls.”
Daily Beast, Michael Daly, Feb. 6, 2020: The virus killing kids [flu] isn’t the one dominating headlines.
The Atlantic, James Hamblin, Feb. 24, 2020: "Most cases are not life threatening."
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker, Feb. 24, 2020: Urged people to visit San Francisco’s Chinatown. "That’s what we’re trying to do today is to say everything is fine here. Come because precautions have been taken. The city is on top of the situation."
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, March 2, 2020: “…I’m encouraging New Yorkers to go on with your lives + get out on the town despite Coronavirus…”
Axios, Rebecca Falconer, March 2, 2020: Cuomo: “[T]he general risk remains low in New York.”“No reason for anxiety.”
Vice President Mike Pence, March 4, 2020: “The risk to the American public of contracting the coronavirus remains low…To be clear: If you are a healthy American, the risk of contracting the coronavirus remains low.”
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, March 6, 2020: “What we want most of America to know is that you're not at high risk for getting coronavirus, and if you do get it you are likely to recover. Ninety-eight, 99 percent of people are going to fully recover.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institutes of Health and White House Task Force, March 8, 2020: “there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.”
Associated Press, CDC and World Health Organization (WHO), March 8, 2020: “The virus is still much less widespread than annual flu epidemics, which cause up to 5 million severe cases around the world and up to 650,000 deaths annually, according to the WHO.”
Lancet Medical Journal, March 12, 2020: Death rates lowest for those under 30… deaths at least 5x more common for people with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure etc., median age of deaths are 70 with deficit of infections among children.
New York Times, Katie Hafner, March 14, 2020: “Amid the uncertainty swirling around the coronavirus pandemic stands one incontrovertible fact: The highest rate of fatalities is among older people, particularly those with underlying medical conditions.”
USA Today, John Bacon, March 16, 2020: "Could Coronavirus be gone by summer?"
New York Times Dr. David Katz, March 20, 2020: "Is Our Fight Against Coronavirus Worse Than the Disease?" “…as much as 99 percent of active cases in the general population are ‘mild’ and do not require specific medical treatment. The small percentage of cases that do require such services are highly concentrated among those age 60 and older, and further so the older people are.”
U.S. News and World Report, and Richardo Alonso-Zaldivar of Associated Press, March 21, 2020: “For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough.”
Cuomo, March 23, 2020: “Many people will get the virus, but few will be truly endangered. Hold both of those facts in your hands: Many will get it, up to 80 percent may get it, but few are truly endangered and we know who they are.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, March 24, 2020: “It is about the vulnerable. It's not about 95% of us. It's about a few percent who are vulnerable. That's all this is about. Bring down that anxiety, bring down that fear, bring down that paranoia.”
BBC, Robert Cuffe, March 24, 2020: “The UK government's chief medical advisor, Professor Chris Whitty, says even though the rates are higher for older people, ‘the great majority of older people will have a mild or moderate disease’.”
Dr. Fauci, in sworn testimony to Congress, March 11, 2020: ’Coronavirus ten times more lethal than flu.’
Dr. Fauci in the New England Journal of Medicine, March 26, 2020: “…the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%)…”
Dr. Peter Hotez, a noted propagandist, prior to March 27, 2020: “Historically travel bans tend not to work very well, they tend to be counter productive.”
Web MD, Kathleen Doheny, March 31, 2020: The fatality rate from COVID-19 is not as high as experts have reported, according to a new analysis published Monday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
The New York Times, March 31, 2020: “Both the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have repeatedly said that ordinary citizens do not need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing.”
CDC, April 5, 2020: “The immediate risk of being exposed to this virus is still low for most Americans…”