I don’t usually bother spending any energy chronicling the reportorial misadventures of the Island of Misfit Toys doing business as True North Reports. That’s the conservative “news” outlet funded by Lenore Broughton, the reclusive ultra-right-wing millionaire.
But this one is special. And it’s a threat to our coronavirus response.
TNR’s Mike Bielawski put together a piece alleging that South Dakota has taken the proper course on Covid-19. That would come as a surprise to any credible public health expert — and I don’t include Peter Navarro or Scott Atlas in those ranks.
And it’s entirely based on a mathematical blunder of epic proportions.
Bielawski cites the two states’ similar death tolls — 165 for South Dakota, 58 for Vermont.
The 58 was Vermont’s total death toll as of a couple months ago. Mikey didn’t bother to update it. But the real whopper is the South Dakota figure, which is not total deaths but the death rate per 100,000 residents!
The actual death count in South Dakota is 1,448. That’s far, far worse than Vermont’s. How much worse? Try eight times as bad. According to the Centers for Disease Control, South Dakota’s death rate is 158 per 100,000. Vermont’s is 20.
Again, normally I wouldn’t bother to debunk this kind of nonsense — except the article argues that we should follow South Dakota’s example because Covid isn’t really that bad. That, my friends, is dangerous. And according to the headline, this is one of TNR’s “most read” pieces. So it’s getting traction among the site’s small audience of hard-core conservatives.
After the jump: More whoppers!
Here’s a big fat logic error to go along with Bielawski’s faulty math. He pretends that Covid-19’s only impact is death. He ignores the serious illnesses suffered by many. And he ignores the estimated 10 percent of Covid patients who become “long haulers,” with severe health problems that go on for months or more.
Now let’s look at total Covid cases. Per the CDC, South Dakota is second-worst in the nation with a rate of 11,039 per 100,000 residents. Vermont has the lowest rate among the 50 states at 1,141.
South Dakota has had almost ten times as many Covid illnesses per capita as Vermont.
Tell me again about South Dakota’s sterling pandemic response.
Bielawski cites South Dakota’s much healthier tax picture and lower unemployment rate. But he says nothing about the human tragedy of it all. Or, if you don’t care about suffering, consider the economic impact of all those illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths.
He also rolls out a common Covid-truther notion, frequently echoed by Trump administration officials: That Covid is mainly a disease of the elderly, that it shouldn’t be much of a concern for anyone under the age of, say, 60. The truth is that Covid is deadlier for old folks and those with pre-existing conditions, but it’s still a threat to people of any age.
One more before I wrap this up. Bielawski notes that Vermont shut down most public events such as fairs and holiday celebrations, while South Dakota put the pedal to the metal. He specifically cites the Sturgis motorcycle rally as an example of the state’s steadfastness in facing down the pandemic.
What he doesn’t say is that the Sturgis gathering was a public health disaster, leading to an estimated 260,000 Covid illnesses according to a study by the Center for Health Economics and Policy Studies at San Diego State University.
I could go on, but why bother. Even by TNR’s low standards, this article is a crime against journalism. And to the extent that any readers buy the nonsense on offer, it makes our battle against coronavirus that much harder.
For shame, TNR.