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More on BA.5 and Media Histrionics

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:


You title your report on the high transmissibility of covid’s BA.5 subvariant “Hopes of Covid-19 Reprieve Fade as BA.5 Subvariant Takes Over” (July 12). Yet three key facts noted within your report belie your headline’s pessimism. First, “[t]he seven-day moving average for confirmed Covid-19 patients in hospitals has topped 33,000, federal data show, up from a low near 10,000 in April but far below January’s record peak topping 150,000.” Second, even this relatively small increase in hospitalizations is less troubling than it initially appears because “[m]any of the hospitalizations are cases where patients test positive after being admitted for other reasons.” Third and most importantly, “[d]eaths are hovering around 300 to 350 a day… This is much closer to historic lows than highs.”

The new subvariant is obviously – as is to be expected from the evolution of a respiratory virus – less dangerous than were previous variants. And so the only data you offer to justify your report’s suggestion that we’ve not yet passed the need to mask and possibly even endure more lockdowns is the rise in cases.

Isn’t it time that you and other media outlets stop frightening the public by reporting on cases as if these are what they emphatically are not, namely, nearly synonymous with serious illnesses and deaths?

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

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