Last week, the Trump administration announced a bold new plan for stopping the disturbing trend we’re seeing in the United States regarding the steady increase in deaths and new cases of COVID-19: they’re going to encourage strong legislation requiring masks in public, keep schools and businesses closed, and outfit our medical professionals with all required personal protective equipment.
Ha ha, just kidding, they’re just going to hide the data so we can’t tell how many people are dying anymore.
Okay, maybe they won’t hide the data. They haven’t come out and said they’re hiding the data. Here’s what they have said: first, Trump said that increased coronavirus testing made the U.S. look bad, “so I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down.” He made it very clear that he would like to hide scientific data in order to make himself look better.
And then he said that from now on, hospitals should no longer report their COVID-19 data to the CDC, and instead they should only report it directly to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (or HHS), who will…do something different with it. Something way better than what the CDC was doing with it. Like…making Trump look better.
If you’re not too worried about it, maybe think back to the last time I talked about the Department of Health and Human Services on this channel. That was back in March, when I was discussing why our hospitals ran out of N-95 masks and other PPE — was it due to average people hoarding masks for themselves, or was it due to the fact that our Strategic National Stockpile, which is meant to supply hospitals with necessary equipment in the event of an emergency, having only 12 million N-95 masks at the start of the year instead of the 3.5 billion masks that we needed?
And why was the stockpile so poorly stockpiled? Did it have anything to do with Trump taking the stockpile away from the CDC and giving it to the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response?
Hmm. Make u think.
So, previously hospitals were reporting their data to the state, the CDC, and the HHS, and that included new COVID-19 infections, deaths, and the percentage of hospital beds that were in use. The CDC made it part of their mission as a public health agency to make that data available to the American public, which allowed third-party groups, like Covid Exit Strategy, would then be able to scrape that data and display it in educational ways that allow us laypeople to quickly and easily see where cases are rising, where hospitals are about to be overwhelmed, and where state policies are getting the disease under control.
The HHS was already getting the data but they do not make that data public, which is why it’s strange that the Trump administration is now asking hospitals to cut the CDC out of their reporting. I mean, it’s strange if you have no deductive reasoning skills and are unable to take a guess at what their ulterior motives may be. Here’s a hint: they’re a wannabe fascist dictatorship run by a semi-literate egotistical man baby who has admitted in public that he has asked his flunkies to hide the data to make him look better.
The very minor bit of good news is that the general public still has access to sites like Johns Hopkins’ COVID-19 Case Tracker, one of the most highly trafficked sources of COVID-19 information online. Johns Hopkins doesn’t scrape the CDC for their data, and instead get that information right from the source.
It really drives home the importance of the Fourth Estate during an administration like Trump’s. In the US, our government is run based on three branches of government, all of which are meant to have checks and balances that prevent any one branch from seizing control of the country. The Republicans have spent a considerable amount of effort eroding those checks and balances, by, for instance, using dirty tactics and spineless Congressional Democrats to block Obama’s rightful Supreme Court pick Merrick Garland so that Trump could put the alcoholic sex pest Brett Kavanaugh on the bench, switching the court from a liberal to a conservative majority. Just to name one random example.
And that’s why we have the Fourth Estate: the press. Journalists are meant to expose this kind of tyranny in the hope that the public will rise up and do something about it, which is why the Trump administration has also spent so much time and energy attacking the free press, too.
The Fifth Estate was recently coined to include the bloggers, social media users, and other reporters outside the mainstream media who are also now doing that work, but honestly I personally see it all as one important check.
It occurs to me that in these times that in addition to non-mainstream media, we should also consider scientists like those at Johns Hopkins to be the Fourth Estate. Trump is currently attempting to hide scientific data in the middle of a pandemic that has thus far killed nearly 140,000 Americans, and our representatives and courts are not working hard enough to stop him. At the very least we can be grateful for those who are both exposing what he’s doing and finding that data and making it accessible to the public despite Trump’s orders. So well done to the hard-working researchers at Johns Hopkins, to the anonymous whistleblowers at departments like the CDC, and to all the journalists who aren’t letting Trump get away with his fascistic anti-science, anti-public health decrees without a fight.