600 Physicians Say Lockdowns Are A ‘Mass Casualty Incident’ | Forbes

960x0Editor’s Note: An Associated Press article by Michael Biesecker and Jason Dearen that includes a description of the 600-physician letter is headlined “GOP fronts ‘pro-Trump’ doctors to prescribe rapid reopening,” which has led to criticism of Gold and her colleagues on social media. However, as the article acknowledges in the text, “Gold denied she was coordinating her efforts with Trump’s reelection campaign.” Gold echoed those comments to us, saying, “This was 100% physician grassroots. There was 0% GOP.”

More than 600 of the nation’s physicians sent a letter to President Trump this week calling the coronavirus shutdowns a “mass casualty incident” with “exponentially growing negative health consequences” to millions of non COVID patients.

“The downstream health effects…are being massively under-estimated and under-reported. This is an order of magnitude error,” according to the letter initiated by Simone Gold, M.D., an emergency medicine specialist in Los Angeles.

“Suicide hotline phone calls have increased 600%,” the letter said. Other silent casualties:  “150,000 Americans per month who would have had new cancer detected through routine screening.”

From missed cancer diagnoses to untreated heart attacks and strokes to increased risks of suicides, “We are alarmed at what appears to be a lack of consideration for the future health of our patients.”

Patients fearful of visiting hospitals and doctors’ offices are dying because COVID-phobia is keeping them from seeking care. One patient died at home of a heart attack rather than go to an emergency room. The number of severe heart attacks being treated in nine U.S hospitals surveyed dropped by nearly 40% since March. Cardiologists are worried “a second wave of deaths” indirectly caused by the virus is likely.

The physicians’ letter focuses on the impact on Americans’ physical and mental health.  “The millions of casualties of a continued shutdown will be hiding in plain sight, but they will be called alcoholism, homelessness, suicide, heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure. In youths it will be called financial instability, unemployment, despair, drug addiction, unplanned pregnancies, poverty, and abuse.

“It is impossible to overstate the short, medium, and long-term harm to people’s health with a continued shutdown,” the letter says. “Losing a job is one of life’s most stressful events, and the effect on a person’s health is not lessened because it also has happened to 30 million [now 38 million] other people.  Keeping schools and universities closed is incalculably detrimental for children, teenagers, and young adults for decades to come.”

While all 50 states are relaxing lockdowns to some extent, some local officials are threatening to keep stay-at-home orders in place until August.  Many schools and universities say they may remain closed for the remainder of 2020.

“Ending the lockdowns are not about Wall Street or disregard for people’s lives; it about saving lives,” said Dr. Marilyn Singleton, a California anesthesiologist and one of the signers of the letter. “We cannot let this disease change the U.S. from a free, energetic society to a society of broken souls dependent on government handouts.” She blogs about the huge damage the virus reaction is doing to the fabric of society.

Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, also warns that restrictions are having a huge negative impact on non-COVID patients.

“Even patients who do get admitted to hospital, say for a heart problem, are prisoners. No one can be with them. Visitation at a rare single-story hospital was through closed outside window, talking via telephone,” she wrote us.  “To get permission to go to the window you have to make an appointment (only one group of two per day!), put on a mask, get your temperature taken, and get a visitor’s badge of the proper color of the day.”

How many cases of COVID-19 are prevented by these practices? “Zero,” Dr. Orient says.  But the “ loss of patient morale, loss of oversight of care, especially at night are incalculable.”

Virtually all hospitals halted “elective” procedures to make beds available for what was expected to be a flood of COVID-19 patients.  Beds stayed empty, causing harm to patients and resulting in enormous financial distress to hospitals, especially those with limited reserves.

Even states like New York that have had tough lockdowns are starting to allow elective hospital procedures in some regions.  But it’s more like turning up a dimmer switch. In Pennsylvania, the chair of the Geisinger Heart Institute, Dr. Alfred Casale, said the opening will be slow while the facility is reconfigured for COVID-19 social distancing and enhanced hygiene.

Will patients come back?  COVID-phobia is deathly real.

Patients still are fearful about going to hospitals for heart attacks and even for broken bones and deep lacerations. Despite heroic efforts by physicians to deeply sanitize their offices, millions have cancelled appointments and are missing infusion therapies and even chemotherapy treatments. This deferred care is expected to lead to patients who are sicker when they do come in for care and more deaths from patients not receiving care for stroke, heart attacks, etc.

She waited almost a week before going to the hospital where doctors discovered she had a brain bleed that had gone untreated.  She had multiple strokes and died. “This is something that most of the time we’re able to prevent,” said her neurosurgeon, Dr. Abhineet Chowdhary, director of the Overlake Neuroscience Institute in Bellevue, Wash.

As the number of deaths from the virus begin to decline, we are likely to awaken to this new wave of casualties the 600 physicians are warning about. We should be listening to the doctors, and heed their advice immediately.

Source: Forbes & Associated Press

The Top Twelve Lies about COVID-19 | Unlock The Lockdown

This article is just a quick run-down of the Top Twelve Lies.

1.   People dropping dead in the streets.

Guardian January

Metro January 31st

The Sun January 31st

This is how the media portrayed COVID-19 at the beginning: a disease so dangerous that people walking along the street suddenly dropped down dead. Virtually all the UK media carried these photos. It’s very odd that in the first two pictures, and variants of them in other papers, those emergency workers have no equipment with them, and appear to be just standing around doing nothing. Are these faked photos? There have been no reports of people dropping dead in the street anywhere since then. And if it had been true in China, the virus would have been noticed very quickly. We now know that the symptoms are indistinguishable from colds, flu or pneumonia. These photos were the start of the Coronapanic lies.

2.   Three Percent Will Die.

The WHO put out this 3% death rate figure early on. You don’t need to be a maths wizard to know that’s one person in thirty. That’s a serious reason to panic. We now know that the death rate is around 0.1%. That’s about one in a thousand, and comparable to seasonal flu. But just as important, the figures are massively skewed towards people around eighty who have at least two existing serious conditions, and are already in a care home: people who have minimal quality of life, and little remaining expectation of life. For younger, healthy people, and younger here can mean under seventy, never mind twenty or thirty, the risk of death is vanishingly small.

3,    Herd Immunity is a Dangerous Idea.

This is one of the most serious corruptions of science ever. You don’t need a degree in Epidemiology to know that epidemics come and go. The very definition of the word implies that. (Conversely, a disease which stays around for many years is called endemic.) You do need to know just a smidgen of Epidemiology to understand why epidemics come and go. It’s not rocket science. When the new disease arrives, everybody is susceptible to it, because it is new and therefore nobody has any immunity. The disease can race through the population, but as it does so it leaves immune people in its wake. As the number of immune people grows, the disease finds it harder and harder to spread. When the number of immune people reaches a certain point (which varies with different diseases) the bug can find no new people to infect, so the bug itself effectively dies. That point is called herd immunity. It is the only way to defeat a new virus. But see number 4.

4.   We Need a Vaccine to Give us Herd Immunity.

Vaccines work by creating artificial herd immunity, but that’s no better than natural herd immunity. And the simple fact is, as everyone knows, we don’t have a vaccine. How long will it take to make one, test it properly, and roll it out? Eighteen months? Three years? Never? In any event, even if we use a vaccine before proper safety testing, it will still take longer than it does to reach herd immunity naturally. (And note that the Common Cold is also often caused by some other Coronaviruses. Still no sign of a vaccine for any of those.)

5 Lockdowns Work.

The evidence here is very, very weak. It is common sense that they must have some effect. But we have New York, with a hard lockdown and massive deaths, while Tokyo with a minimal lockdown has hardly any. Or Sweden with a very mild lockdown having a lower death rate than Britain with a draconian one. Or Spain and Portugal, which together make up the Iberian Peninsula, having massively different death rates. There is another factor, or factors, involved here, and the mass media seem to have no concern as to what they might be. Happily there are some scientists who do seek to explain the differences. Several factors have been put forward with good evidence:

  1. Vitamin D plays a huge role in the immune system, and variations in deficiency certainly play a part, at least in individual cases. In fact, it is negligent of the Government not to have promoted Vitamin D supplementation on a large scale.
  2. Flu vaccines also play a role in causing worse outcome with Coronaviruses. The mechanism is called vaccine-induced viral interference. Naturally those who make vaccines are not keen for you to know about such undesirable side-effects.
  3. Obesity is a negative indicator, which will partly explain New York’s high death rate. One of the oddest Covid statistics to date is that out of the small number of deaths in Japan, no less than seven are Sumo Wrestlers!

One could tease out many other factors, but not one comes close to the Grand Deal-Breaker in Epidemiology, which is immunity. Immunity is the principal reason people do not get sick with any disease. Hence the primary factor in differential death rates must be how long different countries had the virus before they realised. As the infection travelled through populations, confused with colds and flu, it was steadily building immunity. China has a truly miniscule number of deaths given its huge population. The virus there was on the rampage right through Winter Flu Season, before they realised there was something new. When they did, they locked down, and the lockdown appeared to be very effective; but only because they were already close to herd immunity. The countries surrounding China, which have a great deal of intercourse with it, have similarly low death rates (Vietnam, nobody at all!) How and when the virus got into other countries is difficult to unravel now; but one should be aware that Wuhan Airport is a major hub, with flights all over the World. We can reasonably infer that Norway, for example, was infected early, yielding the much lower recorded deaths later. Such a conclusion is borne out by the fact that, having now eased its lockdown, cases are still going down. In other words, there is no sign of a “Second Wave”. After a tight and effective lockdown preventing transmission, and also therefore preventing the growth of immunity, there should indeed be a second wave. The lack of one points very strongly to previously acquired immunity. (In all of this New York remains the ultimate outlier, and I’m no more prepared to attempt a complete explanation of NY statistics at this stage than anybody else.)

6.   Lockdown Does Not Cause More Deaths than it Saves.

The leaked figure of 150,000 lockdown-caused deaths has never been refuted by the UK Government. It is only common sense that with the NHS shut down to almost everyone, there will be more deaths from other causes. Also more suicides, more domestic violence, and the array of problems that increase mortality when poverty increases. The economic crash is going to have a big effect there. And do we regard the suicide of a healthy 20-year-old as equivalent to the death of an ailing 85-year old? Lockdown is not a One-Way Street when it comes to saving lives; more likely a Wrong-Way Street.

7.     Being Infected May Not (or Does Not) Make You Immune.

This is a truly bizarre assumption to make about any specific infection. (Note that the Common Cold, which is endemic, is caused by a number of different viruses.) This “fact” was allegedly based on some people who seemed to be infected twice. But the extreme difficulty of distinguishing between Colds, Flu, Covid19 and Pneumonia means this was always a ridiculous conclusion to reach. And if it were true it would be a one shot kill of the “Race for a Vaccine.” Vaccines only work because they stimulate the immune system in the way a natural infection does. If Covid19 did not provoke a normal immune response, any vaccine would be useless.

8.    Having Covid Means Having Serious Symptoms.

In the beginning of this sorry saga, the most serious symptom, as noted in Lie 1 above, was instant death. Now we know that it mostly has no symptoms at all, or presents like a Common Cold. All the World’s highly-paid and endlessly-promoted “experts” somehow didn’t notice this.

9.    Masks Work.

If they do, why can’t we all wear them and get back to normal? If they don’t, why are we ever recommended to use them? The effectiveness or otherwise of masks has been a controversial matter for months. Some Doctors have said that healthy people wearing them outside of a clinical setting is definitely a bad idea. Is the mask controversy just another way to ramp up fear and confusion?

10.   Two Meter Social Distancing is Necessary.

There is no good science behind this. In Norway, with its incredibly low death rate, they use one metre. And there is never a reference to whether you are indoors or out. If you breathe out virus indoors, it has little choice but to hang around in the room for a while. If you are outside in fairly still air, which has a speed of about 2 metres per second, the virus you breathed out 2 seconds ago is already 4 metres away. And because the air you breathe out is always warmer than the surrounding air, and warm air rises, that potentially virus-laden air will rise up outside with no ceiling to stop it. So two metres is not necessary in Norway, but it is in England, whether you are in a small room or on a breezy beach. Is this fear-mongering nonsense, or science? It is certainly not the latter.

11.    Money has Nothing to do with Any of This.

The influence and mega-bucks of Bill Gates and Big Pharma is supposedly not skewing the debate. Bill Gates’s donations to Prof Lockdown Ferguson’s Imperial College, or to the WHO, make no difference, and Bill Gates’s desire to produce seven billion doses of vaccine does not give him a financial interest. Bill Gates is a nice guy who knows a lot about computer viruses, so we should all look to him as our Saviour from this virus. I fancy there’s more logic in Alice in Wonderland.

12.   The Destruction of Basic Human Rights is a Price Worth Paying.

People being under virtual House Arrest, with Freedom of Movement, Freedom of Association, Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Work, Freedom to attend School, all curtailed, is OK? The introduction of mass personal surveillance is a good thing? If a foreign invader threatened our Rights like that we would fight for them, and accept casualties in the process. Why are we suddenly turning that logic on its head, and deciding to give up Rights to (possibly) save lives? Do we all fondly imagine that we will soon have our Rights back? History shows that Rights are generally hard won, and once lost they are very hard to get back. And if you think you still have Freedom of Speech, try as I and others have, to put across a view that is different to the Government. Yes, you can get it across to a few. But if it reaches many more, Google, or YouTube, or Facebook will soon censor it. If you are reading this article, it is because you are one of a small number, meaning the article is still below the censor’s radar, or the popularity level that triggers censorship.

In those wonderful days before Covid19, we all knew that Politicians, Journalists and Salesmen are inveterate Purveyors of Porky Pies. Now these same people are regarded as Saints and Saviours, with absolutely nothing but our best interests and well-being in their hearts. It is a fact, meaning a real one, not a fake one, that I can think of no topic ever that has had so many utterly bizarre lies told about it. It is also a fact that I cannot think of any matter where politicians around the World all suddenly started braying like donkeys with the same awful hoo-ha. And also a fact that I cannot think of any occurrence which has simultaneously destroyed human rights and wrecked the economy across the entire Globe. Is it not odd that all of those three extreme observations should apply to the very same little virus? If anyone can’t see a problem here, it can only be that Coronapanic has totally obliterated their thought processes.

Source: The Lockdown

A Study on Infectivity of Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Carriers | National Library of Medicine

Asymptomatic

Background: An ongoing outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread around the world. It is debatable whether asymptomatic COVID-19 virus carriers are contagious. We report here a case of the asymptomatic patient and present clinical characteristics of 455 contacts, which aims to study the infectivity of asymptomatic carriers.

Material and methods: 455 contacts who were exposed to the asymptomatic COVID-19 virus carrier became the subjects of our research. They were divided into three groups: 35 patients, 196 family members and 224 hospital staffs. We extracted their epidemiological information, clinical records, auxiliary examination results and therapeutic schedules.

Results: The median contact time for patients was four days and that for family members was five days. Cardiovascular disease accounted for 25% among original diseases of patients. Apart from hospital staffs, both patients and family members were isolated medically. During the quarantine, seven patients plus one family member appeared new respiratory symptoms, where fever was the most common one. The blood counts in most contacts were within a normal range. All CT images showed no sign of COVID-19 infection. No severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections was detected in 455 contacts by nucleic acid test.

Conclusion: In summary, all the 455 contacts were excluded from SARS-CoV-2 infection and we conclude that the infectivity of some asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 carriers might be weak.


Keywords:
Asymptomatic carrier; Contacts; Infectivity; SARS-CoV-2.

Conflict of interest statement

Declaration of competing interest The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.

Figures

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References

    1. Lescure F.X., Bouadma L., Nguyen D. Clinical and virological data of the first cases of COVID-19 in Europe: a case series. Lancet Infect. Dis. 2020 doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30200-0. Published Online March 27 2020. Available at: – DOI
    1. Adalja A.A., Toner E., Inglesby T.V. JAMA; 2020. Priorities for the US Health Community Responding to COVID-19. Published Online March 03 2020. Available at: – DOI
    1. McCloskey B., Zumla A., Ippolito G. Mass gathering events and reducing further global spread of COVID-19: a political and public health dilemma. Lancet. 2020;395:1096–1099. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30681-4. Available at: – DOIPMCPubMed
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    1. Lu R., Zhao X., Li J. Genomic characterisation and epidemiology of 2019 novel coronavirus: implications for virus origins and receptor binding. Lancet. 2020;395:565–574. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30251-8. Available at: – DOIPMCPubMed

Source: National Library of Medicine

Clinicians, Researchers & Health Experts from Around the World Interrogating the Mainstream Narrative Around the Pandemic | Questioning COVID

HerdImmunityWe believe this crisis represents a world-changing opportunity to expose and transform antiquated ideologies that restrict health freedom. Germ theory is a scientifically bankrupt paradigm based in warfare models of pathogenic invasion. This theory has been leveraged as an instrument for geopolitical and social control – largely in the form of a vaccination agenda – to subdue the populace through coerced and forced bodily penetration and associated disability, mortality, and surveillance. As a result, conventional Western medicine functions as a sort of religion based on consensus assumptions and dogmatic medical monotheistic posturing. At its core, this approach is not salugenic or scientific and thus violates its stated ethical parameters around informed consent, beneficence, and an uncompromised evidence base.

We believe that citizens should be free to exercise their natural right to practice medicine as they see fit – in retention both of bodily sovereignty and civil liberties. To that end, we orient ourselves around the foundational premises that the body is inherently wise, that symptoms are meaningful, and that radical healing is eminently possible when we align with the earth and honor our place in the natural world.

Source: Questioning COVID

AG Barr Speaks Out on Lockdowns: “We Are Killing the Patient” | Trending Politics

5e9f7445cfcbc47809910352_f4d658e3c0_bBy Collin Rugg

While joining conservative host Hugh Hewitt on his radio show on Tuesday, Attorney General Bill Barr spoke out on the coronavirus lockdowns here in the United States, stating that the stay at home orders are beginning to do more damage than the virus itself.

Barr explained that the lockdown decision was initially a good move to slow the virus however he feels that it is starting to go for too long.

“These are unprecedented burdens on civil liberties right now. You know, the idea that you have to stay in your house is disturbingly close to house arrest,” Barr said. “I’m not saying it wasn’t justified. I’m not saying in some places it might still be justified. But it’s very onerous, as is shutting down your livelihood.”

The Attorney General continued by comparing the coronavirus shutdowns to chemotherapy treatments.

“Your first thing is to drive [the cancer] back to a more manageable state, and that’s what we’re doing and have done,” the attorney general stated. “The question is, you can’t just keep on feeding the patient chemotherapy and say ‘well, we’re killing the cancer,’ because we’re getting to the point where we’re killing the patient.”

Check out what the Daily Wire reported:

Nearly 22 million people have applied for unemployment benefits in the past month, a rough estimate of the number of people that have either lost their jobs or been furloughed since states began implementing strict stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The Department of Labor reported the latest claims numbers on Thursday, and the number of jobs lost has likely continued to climb steeply since.

Protests have broken out across several states such as Michigan, North Carolina, and Ohio of residents demanding that state governors loosen stringent regulations that are forcing many businesses to stay closed.

The pain of many businesses has been compounded since the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal relief fund meant to float businesses through the pandemic, went dry last week. Democrats in Washington have delayed a fresh cash infusion to the program to secure more funding for state and local governments. A bill is expected to pass the Senate on Tuesday.

Nearly 805,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the United States, and roughly 44,000 deaths have been attributed to the virus by Tuesday afternoon. New York, the state hardest hit by the pandemic, accounts for nearly half of total U.S. deaths with about 20,000.

A handful of states are preparing to relax emergency restriction in the coming days and will allow many people to begin working, albeit with some social distancing rules for the foreseeable future. Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia is expected to be one of the first to begin opening his state, announcing on Monday that he would lift his stay-at-home order by the end of the week.

Source: Trending Politics

CDC’s failed coronavirus tests were tainted with coronavirus, feds confirm | ArsTechnica & The New York Times

CDC Headquarters As Agency Take Heat Over Coronavirus Testing Kits

A federal investigation found CDC researchers not following protocol.

By Beth Mole

As the new coronavirus took root across America, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent states tainted test kits in early February that were themselves seeded with the virus, federal officials have confirmed.

The contamination made the tests uninterpretable, and—because testing is crucial for containment efforts—it lost the country invaluable time to get ahead of the advancing pandemic.

The CDC had been vague about what went wrong with the tests, initially only saying that “a problem in the manufacturing of one of the reagents” had led to the failure. Subsequent reporting suggested that the problem was with a negative control—that is, a part of the test meant to be free of any trace of the coronavirus as a critical reference for confirming that the test was working properly overall.

Now, according to investigation results reported by The New York Times, federal officials confirm that sloppy laboratory practices at two of three CDC labs involved in the tests’ creation led to contamination of the tests and their uninterpretable results.

“Just tragic”

Shortly after the problems became apparent in early February, the Food and Drug Administration sent Timothy Stenzel, chief of in vitro diagnostics and radiological health, to the CDC to investigate what was going wrong. According to the Times, he found a lack of coordination and inexperience in commercial manufacturing.

Problems that led to the contamination included researchers coming and going from labs working on the test kits without changing their coats and researchers sharing lab space to both assemble test components and handle samples containing the coronavirus.

The CDC said in a statement Saturday to the Times that the agency “did not manufacture its test consistent with its own protocol.” Though the CDC appeared reluctant to admit contamination was at the root of the problem, the Times noted that in a separate statement the CDC seemed to acknowledge such problems, saying the agency has since “implemented enhanced quality control to address the issue and will be assessing the issue moving forward.”

After the CDC first sent its test kit to states in early February, it took the agency around a month to fix the problem. By then, the virus had invaded many communities unimpeded, and any chance that the US had at containing its spread had virtually vanished. By mid-March, many states turned to mitigation efforts, such as social distancing, to try to blunt—rather than prevent—the life-threatening, healthcare-overwhelming effects of COVID-19.

“It was just tragic,” Scott Becker, executive director of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, told the Times. “All that time when we were sitting there waiting, I really felt like, here we were at one of the most critical junctures in public health history, and the biggest tool in our toolbox was missing.”

As of the morning of April 20, the US has confirmed more than 760,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 40,700 deaths. The numbers are expected to be underestimates due to the slow and still limited amount of testing.

Source: ArsTechnica & The New York Times

Some Thoughts on Thinking Critically in Times of Uncertainty and the Trap of Lopsided Skepticism | Denise Minger

twitter_these_daysBy Denise Minger

Long time no blog, fam!

So, I had this hope that the next thing I posted here would be a grand explanation about my extended absence, all the weird stuff that’s happened over the past few years, my loss of faith in nutrition as a front-line approach to healing, and various other sundries I’ve been storing up in my brain-attic.

But then COVID-19 happened, and if that isn’t the biggest cosmic plan-changer that ever did plan-change, then I don’t know what is. So we’re gonna roll with it. And at the risk of writing something that’ll already be outdated by the time I hit publish (such is the nature of current events), I’m hoping this post will stay evergreen (or at least ever-chartreuse) by sheer virtue of its universal core theme: navigating conflicting, emotionally charged narratives in which objectivity behooves us but doesn’t come easy.

So LET US BEGIN.

In case you didn’t notice, the cyber-world (and its 3D counterpart, I assume, but we’re not allowed to venture there anymore) is currently a hot mess of Who and what do we believe? This is zero percent surprising. Official agencies have handled COVID-19 with the all grace of a three-legged elephant—waffling between the virus being under control/not under control/OMG millions dead/wait no 60,000/let’s pack the churches on Easter!/naw, lockdown-til-August/face masks do nothing/face masks do something, but healthcare workers need them more/FACE MASKS FOR EVERY FACE RIGHT NOW PLEASE AND THANK YOU/oh no a tiger got the ‘rona!; on and on. It’s dizzying. Maddening. The opposite of confidence-instilling. And as a very predictable result, guerrilla journalism has grown to fill the void left by those who’ve failed to tell us, with any believability, what’s going on.

Exercising our investigative rights is usually a good thing. You guys know me. I’m all about questioning established narratives and digging into the forces that crafted them. It’s literally my life. Good things happen when we flex our thinking muscle, and nothing we’re told should be immune to scrutiny.

But there’s a shadow side here, too—what I’ll henceforth refer to as “lopsided skepticism.” This is what happens when we question established narratives… but not the non-established ones. More specifically, when we go so hog wild ripping apart The Official Story that we somehow have no skepticism left over for all the new stuff we’re replacing it with.

And that, my friends, is exactly what’s happening right now.

I’ve been watching homegrown theories about COVID-19 spiral through various social platforms, born from a mix of data (sometimes) and theory (usually) and anecdote (always). They’re generally a pushback against the mainstream narrative about the coronavirus’s timeline, severity, concern-worthiness, fatality rate, treatment, infection breadth, classification guidelines, origin… round and round we go. Some theories are reasonable (“Has the virus been here longer than we think?”), some are untenable (“The ‘virus’ is actually radiation poisoning from 5G towers!”), and many more lie somewhere between.

Most importantly, they all have one thing in common: a tendency to embrace any and all supportive data without, well, making sure it’s true. 

Y’all know what I’m talking about. Evidence we’d never give the time of day if it didn’t work in our favor. The “I remember reading somewhere…”, the “I have a friend who knows someone who…”, YouTube interviews that are impossible to fact-check (but please just trust this person’s top-secret info from an organization they can’t name without the Feds beating down their door), crowdsourced anecdotes, retracted papers, retweeted screenshots of Facebook comments from people whose names and profile pictures are blacked out, the whole shebang.

This stuff. Is. EVERYWHERE.

Unfortunately, throwing a bunch of really bad evidence together can create the illusion of a well-supported theory. And this is what’s happening, my dudes. This is what it’s come to. In our rabid quest to undermine the Powers That Be and figure out what’s really going on, we’ve thrown quality control out the window and become that which we loathe: loyalists to narrative over data.

resurcher

Case in point, let’s look at what might be the most popular COVID-19 theory circulating right now: that mortality stats are getting padded by assigning deaths to COVID-19 that are really from other causes—thereby making this whole thing seem worse than it actually is. Depending on the sub-theory, this might be due to financial incentives for hospitals (more COVID-19 patients = more $$$); a coordinated government hoax to trick people into relinquishing their sovereignty; a way to butter us up for mass ID microchipping; something something lizard people; and so on.

And from what I’ve seen—and by all means correct me if I’m missing something—this theory draws on the following claims:

  1. The CDC has literally issued guidelines telling doctors and medical examiners to classify deaths as COVID-19 if they “presume” the patient has it—no test results needed.
  2. CDC data shows a precipitous drop in pneumonia deaths right around the same time COVID-19 became a thing—suggesting pneumonia deaths have been getting reclassified as COVID-19 deaths, and creating the illusion of a pandemic.
  3. People who die with coronavirus, but not from coronavirus, are getting counted as COVID-19 deaths—again inflating the body count.
  4. Despite COVID-19 mortality skyrocketing, total mortality is staying the same (or even dropping)—suggesting a “cause of death” shuffle, if you will, and betraying the idea that we’re seeing additional deaths from a new disease. (Alternatively: “Only people with preexisting medical conditions are dying and they were gonna keel over any minute anyhow.”)

This theory would be pretty awful if it’s true. We’d have been got. Duped. Manipulated AF. But how solid is the evidence? Have we actually peeled this thing apart piece by piece before getting all ragey about the injustice of it all?

Oh, we haven’t? Well GUESS WHAT WE’RE GOING TO DO NOW?

Let the unpeeling commence.


Claim #1

1. First, the whole “CDC is telling people to report COVID-19 deaths without testing!” ordeal. The damning bits come from the CDC’s COVID-19 reporting guide (PDF), which gives permission to use COVID-19 on a death certificate if it’s “suspected or likely” and “‘probable’ or ‘presumed’”:

cdc_covid_reporting_guide

And also says it’s okay to report COVID-19 without testing confirmation:

okay_no_test

And the WHO’s “Emergency use ICD codes for COVID-19 disease outbreak” gives a whole death code for COVID-19 cases that aren’t confirmed via test:

who_emergency_coding

And finally, this National Vital Statistics System document says COVID-19 can be put on a death certificate when it’s “assumed” to have caused death:

nvss_alert

The point of contention here, which has sparked something of an outrage in important places such as Twitter, is that these guidelines allow a level of guesswork that could mess things up real bad. Especially if there’s already some sort of incentive to bend data in the direction of more coronavirus deaths. What if people assign COVID-19 willy nilly to anyone who has a cough or fever? Or who had a poorly-timed bout of allergies? Where does the line get drawn? For sure, “probable,” “presumed,” “suspected,” and “likely” aren’t very reassuring words when it comes to a disease we’ve shut down the whole globe to contain.

But is this actually conspiracy worthy? And, in a clinical setting, with actual doctors doing doctor things rather than us internet-dwelling oafs imagining how it all might go, would these guidelines really lead to a significant over-reporting of COVID-19 deaths?

For starters, let’s look more closely at that CDC reporting guide. Although it does say COVID-19 deaths can be assigned without a positive test result, it also emphasizes the importance of drawing from all available evidence in order to make an informed judgment:

cause_of_death_reporting_covid-19

And it turns out, this is really no sketchier than the CDC’s guidelines for certifying pretty much any cause of death. Seriously. According to the agency’s Medical Examiners’ and Coroners’ Handbook on Death Registration and Fetal Death Reporting (PDF), it’s okay to use personal “judgment” when there’s uncertainty:

medical_examiners_handbook_1

And yes, medical examiners and coroners are invited to give their “opinion”:

medical_examiners_handbook_3

So are physicians, according to the CDC’s Physician’s Handbook on Medical Certification of Death—note also the use of “probable”:

physicians_medical_opinion

And medical examiners are broadly allowed to list “causes that are suspected,” and to “use words such as ‘probable’ or ‘presumed’”—again, for any death-cause:

probable_presumed_any_death

And here we see the CDC’s Instructions for Completing the Cause-of-Death Section of the Death Certificate telling us again that a condition can be listed as “probable” even if there isn’t a definitive diagnosis (and also the words YOUR and OPINION written in CAPS because the CDC successfully learned how to yell on the internet; good job, CDC):

probable_shmobbable

*I know it’s tiny; click for bigger

Are you sick of this yet? Guess what? Alzheimer’s deaths can get the same code whether the disease is confirmed or “probable”:

alzheimers

Oh hey, remember 83 seconds ago when we were so mad that COVID-19 deaths could be listed as “probable” or “presumed”? Because it seemed like some unique-to-coronavirus word twist intended to help pad the death stats? REMEMBER?

probable_presumed_covid_omg

No. Just no. This same language is consistent through all the cause of death guidelines, no matter the killer in question. It’s been that way for years. And COVID-19 is even lucky enough to get separate codes for “probable” versus “confirmed” cases, which is more than we can say for some other diseases. (And to boot, some places were already seeing COVID-19 mortality explode before reporting the “probable” deaths at all.) Heck, the guidelines for coronavirus deaths are far more straightforward than the maze-like estimation formula the CDC takes for flu mortality.

In short—and please make me eat my words if I’ve overlooked something important here—this really isn’t outrage-worthy. Certifying any form of death is an imperfect, partly subjective process, and concessions for that reality are baked into all sorts of official guidelines. If overzealous COVIDing is happening (and you’re welcome to investigate any theory-offshoots that it is), it’s not because the CDC told death certifiers to cook the books.


Claim #2

2. As for pneumonia deaths getting classified as COVID-19 deaths? This graph of CDC data has been making the rounds as evidence that something very shady, very shady indeed, is going on. As you can see, around week 10 of this year (starting March 2nd), pneumonia mortality told its wife it loved her and then jumped off a cliff:

pneumonia_drop

If we’re already primed to think the COVID-19 numbers are being doctored, we might take this graph at face value and add it to our stash of outrage fodder. But that would not be smart, friends. Face value is where critical thinking goes to die. And so, in the spirit of questioning literally everything, we must ask: could anything else explain what we’re seeing?

As a matter of fact, yes! So much yes! We only have to venture as far as the CDC’s Provisional Death Counts for Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) page to see what’s up. Go take a look. Especially the “Delays in reporting” section. Thar be some gold.

Basically, the CDC’s death-certificate-processing system is a slow, laborious beast that ensures any recent mortality data is always incomplete. They give a decent rundown of how death certificates get handled from start to finish:

Provisional counts of deaths are underestimated relative to final counts. This is due to the many steps involved in reporting death certificate data. When a death occurs, a certifier (e.g. physician, medical examiner or coroner) will complete the death certificate with the underlying cause of death and any contributing causes of death. In some cases, laboratory tests or autopsy results may be required to determine the cause of death. Completed death certificate are sent to the state vital records office and then to NCHS for cause of death coding.

And here we have a special shoutout to our favorite infectious diseases, noting that pneumonia, flu, and COVID-19 certificates take extra long to trickle into the data pool due to manual coding (emphases mine):

At NCHS, about 80% of deaths are automatically processed and coded within seconds, but 20% of deaths need to manually coded, or coded by a person. Deaths involving certain conditions such as influenza and pneumonia are more likely to require manual codingthan other causes of death. Furthermore, all deaths with COVID-19 are manually coded. Death certificates are typically manually coded within 7 days of receipt, although the coding delay can grow if there is a large increase in the number of deaths. As a result, underestimation of the number of deaths may be greater for certain causes of death than others.

Zooming in even further, the CDC gives some stats conveying just how incomplete their recent data is, and boy howdy is it a sorry sight. At any given moment, data from two weeks ago is likely to be barely over a quarter completewhile data from eight weeks ago is still less than three-quarters complete:

Previous analyses of provisional data completeness from 2015 suggested that mortality data is approximately 27% complete within 2 weeks, 54% complete within 4 weeks, and at least 75% complete within 8 weeks of when the death occurred. Pneumonia deaths are 26% complete within 2 weeks, 52% complete within 4 weeks, and 72% complete within 8 weeks (unpublished). Data timeliness has improved in recent years, and current timeliness is likely higher than published rates.

The CDC even slaps this little disclaimer after each table of COVID-19, pneumonia, and flu death counts:

cdc_lag_time_8_weeks

Once again, with feeling: CDC mortality figures are initially very incomplete, low-balled-as-all-get-out, and retroactively fill in over time. Which means a weird pneumonia death-drop will show up any time we check the most recent data, COVID or No-vid.

To illustrate, Joseph Dunn graphed the CDC’s pneumonia data as it appeared on the same mid-March week of each year since 2013. Behold:

pneumonia_week_12_all_years

Look at all them swan dives!

And data scientist Tyler Morgan even went to the trouble of graphing the data from every weekly CDC pneumonia report published in the last decade, to show how the lines shift as data gets back-filled. Click here or on the image below for the really cool animation (it’s weirdly beautiful and absolutely worth the 30 seconds of your life):

tyler_morgan_animated_graph

In other words, there’s nothing anomalous at all about 2020’s pneumonia trends. Nothing. The popular graph up top is a meaningless piece of hooey and it’s sad that it went viral.

Note: there’s an issue here I’m cognizant of, but intentionally not touching on yet, which is that some people believe the CDC (and any other government organization) literally makes up data from thin air, thus rendering all of the above irrelevant. This level of conspiracy is beyond the scope of this post, but I may try to address it at some point later on. Not from a data angle, but from a psychological one.


Claim #3

3. Here we have the wildly popular claim that people are dying with COVID-19, not really from COVID-19. At least, not in the numbers we’re being told. It’s basically a steroided-up version of Claim #1—just with more trickery and plot-thickness and finger-tenting.

candace_owens_tweet

The evidence for this one is a lot harder to fact-check, because there are actually no facts to check. Its trueness rests on us believing that doctors and death-certifiers are being marionetted by evil forces and/or just plumb don’t know what they’re doing.

The closest thing we’ve got to “evidence” are citationless social media statements like the above, which we’re expected to trust because LOOK AT ALL THOSE RETWEETS!, a few well-publicized examples of allegedly mis-assigned COVID-19 deaths, and Youtube interviews with people who are pretty sure they know what’s going on. Like this one, featuring Dr. Annie Bukacek, with nearly 750,000 views at the time of writing.

Apparently, she knows her stuff. And the stuff she knows is that the coronavirus figures are being manipulated!

distinguished_and_cherished_physician

Hmmm…

highly_distinguished_omg

Hmmmmmm…

annie_google_reviews

annie_yelp_review

annie_healthgrade_reviews

Hmmmmmmmmm.

Serious question: how many of us bothered to look Dr. Bukacek up before thrusting her atop a pedestal of trustworthiness? And sharing her video far across the lands? And assuming she’s an impartial commentator on the whole situation (her praiseful introducer was literally her pastor)? Should we really put faith in someone we didn’t even know existed ten seconds ago just because 1) they’re telling us what we want to hear and 2) an internet headline made them sound prestigious?

By the way, to state the obvious, this is me intentionally and very shamelessly cherry-picking to make a point. Not all of her reviews are bad. Nor do the existing ones necessarily prove she isn’t credible. And if we wanted to be truly fair, we could prod deeper and ask whether she might be getting bad-review-bombed due to her vocal pro-life activism or religious affiliation or anti-vaccine stance (she’s definitely got some haterz). There’s a lot of sticky tricky gray-zone business in evaluating reputation, which is why—whenever possible—we should investigate a person’s claims rather than their character.

But the issue here is that with Dr. Bukacek, we can’t “investigate her claims” without installing cameras into every death certifier’s brain and watching what unfolds within their basal ganglias. So we’re left with only her word. And one person’s word is not useful data. Even if it’s the best of persons and the best of words.

Now, to play devil’s advocate with my own arguments here, there’s another popular video—this one featuring Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx—that seems more genuinely suspect. I saved this one for last because it might actually have some merit. In it, Dr. Birx talks about the USA’s “very liberal approach to mortality” and outright states that people who die with COVID-19 are counted as COVID-19 deaths:

Transcript: There are other countries that if you had a preexisting condition, and let’s say the virus caused you to go to the ICU and then have a heart or kidney problem, some countries are recording that as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death. Right now we’re still recording it and we’ll—I mean the great thing about having forms that come in and a form that has the ability to mark it as COVID-19 infection, the intent is right now that those—if someone dies with COVID-19 we are counting that [as a COVID-19 death].

It’s not surprising this clip went gangbusters! It seems like a deal-clinching A-ha for anyone who suspected COVID-19 was getting slapped onto every death possible.

However, here and always, context matters. After all, this segment was carefully cropped from a much longer coronavirus briefing from April 7th. And if we listen to the full segment—the audience question that came before this clip, and the follow-up question that came after it, and the follow-up answer Dr. Birx gave, and the addendum answer Dr. Anthony Fauci gave—we can better orient ourselves in the conversation that was happening.

Go have a listen. The relevant stuff starts at the 1:39:07 mark:

Could it be that Dr. Birx thought the question-asker was wondering if lack of testing might cause under-reporting, and tried to reassure her by explaining that the current COVID hotspots are flush with tests? And that people with “heart or kidney problems” wouldn’t be reported as dying from those things if they’d ended up in the ICU from coronavirus? (Especially given that COVID-19 itself can cause cardiac injury and kidney damage?)

It sounds to me like the thrust of the asker’s question—which was more along the lines of “Are we sure we’re not over-counting deaths?!”—went over the heads of the task force, and they addressed a different issue than the one she was trying to get at.

But I can’t read minds. And I can’t prove that it’s not all just political doublespeak and of course they understood the question. And I think there’s far too little information in this video alone to assess it from a “scam vs. not-scam” angle. And most importantly, in the absence of actual mortality data that could clue us in to potential over-reporting, I doubt analyzing this thing to smithereens can bring us any closer to the truth.

But, you be the judge. And speaking of mortality data…


Claim #4

4. Lastly and not leastly: the claim that COVID-19 isn’t actually causing excess mortality; we’re just reshuffling death causes to stack up higher for COVID-19 and lower for everything else. Boom, insta-pandemic!

First, a note. This is a Very Important claim. It’s the supreme ruler of all the claims that came before it and perhaps all those incipient ones that will come after. It has executive power and a VIP card for entry into the most highly guarded chambers of our brains. This is because, unlike causes of death, actual body counts can’t be fudged. This is the one true test. If COVID-19 really is taking lives en masse above and beyond what we’d expect from normal death trends, total mortality is where it’ll show up. If it’s not, then our game of death-code musical chairs will be revealed for the con that it is.

Again: Very Important claim. This is the crux of it, my dear readers.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to test this claim: looking at total mortality trends in areas that COVID-19 has purportedly ravaged, and comparing that to historical mortality in the same location. An absence of anomalous death spikes—taking into account, of course, delays in processing death certificates and the lag time between infection and dying—would suggest we’re over-reporting COVID-19. And if excess mortality does appear, then we either have to concede that COVID-19 isn’t a nothingburger after all, or propose that some other ghastly, unnamed entity is stealing lives very coincidentally at the same time we have a made-up pandemic.

*Keep in mind, too, that our current near-global quarantine should slash deaths from accidents and certain crimes and infectious disease—and thus “normal” mortality rates for right now would likely be lower than for previous years.

So let’s dig into this. The “COVID-19 is overblown” theory asserts that total mortality isn’t doing anything unusual. At least not significantly so. No more than a bad flu year, let’s say. And depending on the source, we may be furnished with graphs that seem to demonstrate this truth to our hungry, data-seeking eyes, such as the following for England and Wales:

no_excess_england_wales

old_mortality_england_wales

There’s one very big problem here. Check the dates.

Almost universally, the “See, it’s nothing!” graphs use data from mid to late March, when COVID-19 was just starting to pick up steam in the areas it’s most recently terrorized. And in March, there really weren’t massive mortality spikes, except perhaps for Italy. Nothing to see here, folks was true. And no one in the infectious disease world was claiming otherwise. In March, the rumblings of upcoming mortality explosions was what people were getting worried about, not the numbers as they then stood. The whole deal with “exponential growth” is that it’s—wait for it—exponential. This is how we went from 0 reported COVID-19 deaths in the USA on February 15th, 65 deaths one month later, and 30,000 deaths yet another month later.

So let’s see what happens when we look, instead, at more recent data from countries with known COVID-19 outbreaks. (This site is a great starting resource for raw mortality data and some visuals.)

First, here’s what’s up with England and Wales now (source):

excess_mortality_england_wales

And another depiction suggesting COVID-19 deaths may be under-reported (data source and image source):

excess_mortality_england_wales_2

London, OMG (source):

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excess_mortality_london

Excess mortality in Spain as a whole, from December 2019 to April 15 of this year (source):

excess_mortality_spain

Madrid, in particular, got clobbered:

excess_mortality_madrid

And Bergamo, Italy, in which March deaths far surpassed anything seen locally within the past decade (source):

bergamo_italy_mortality

Heck, northern Italy as a whole (source):

excess_mortality_northern_italy

Switzerland looking pretty wonky for the 65-and-olders (source):

excess_mortality_switzerland

Total mortality in the Netherlands (source):

excess_mortality_netherlands

A big chunk o’ Europe getting excess-mortalitied (source):

euromomo_map_2020-14

New York City, graphed by the New York Times (article here; viewable with free subscription) (NOTE: this data is almost two weeks outdated and the the April deaths are now many magnitudes higher):

NYC_death_spike_april_4

We could do this all day, but you get the point.

Here’s the deal, folks. People. Are. Dying. The mortality trends for COVID-19-affected areas look like what happens when you’re trying to draw a straight line and then sneeze. This is not normal. This is not how things “should” look. We can argue all we want about how accurate the COVID-19-specific data is—and indeed, there’s plenty to argue about— but total mortality doesn’t lie. This is real.


Final Thoughts

By all means, the above peel-apart is far from complete. I’m sure there are more viral videos we could assess, more statistics to double-check, more anomalies to ponder. The point isn’t to reach a final conclusion here—just to demonstrate the process. The level of detail that must go into investigating a theory before we let ourselves fully entertain it. And if that process seems exhausting, excessive, excruciatingly nit-picky, too time consuming—well, it’s the price of admission for calling ourselves “informed.” Anything less and we’re operating on faith. Which is okay, if that’s our goal. But we must call it what it is.

Now maybe you’re thinking, “Okay, the ‘COVID-19 deaths are getting padded’ theory didn’t really hold up. But what about G5 radiation causing virus symptoms? What about mandatory vaccine agendas getting pushed on the world? What about COVID-19 being a bioweapon? What about what about what about?”

To which I say, Yes! Great! What about them indeed! Put on your best-tailored thinking cap and go find out. Marinate in all the data you can find. Watch out for claims that seem sciencey but trace back to a 4chan post. Be mindful of the universal human tendency to filter out things we disagree with and embrace any evidence that we like. Dig in, first and foremost, with the goal of proving yourself wrong. If you can’t, then perhaps there’s something there.

Of course, I realize the type of deep-dive we did in this post isn’t always possible, and not everyone can sit at home all day opening so many browser tabs that their MacBook freezes with a “System Has Run Run Out of Application Memory” error (anyone else? No? Just me?). Sometimes we need shortcuts. So for anyone who really wants to do the work, to prioritize truth-seeking over ideology, to stay oriented in reality, to let go of false narratives, but who doesn’t have infinite time to do so: here are some questions to ask whenever a new or alternative theory presents itself. Especially a theory we find ourselves enamored with. None of these questions can substitute for ruthlessly investigating, but they can help us stay grounded in situations where our minds easily lead us astray.

  • Am I claiming to see through the media’s fear-mongering, but falling prey to conspiracy fear-mongering instead?
  • Am I being pressured to accept this theory in order to be “woke” or “not sheeple”?
  • Have I read the full context of this quote, clip, or screenshot before assuming I know what it means?
  • Does the group promoting this theory invite questions and critiques? Or does it flippantly dismiss those things and/or attack its doubters?
  • If this same form of evidence (Youtube interview, social media comment, etc.) was used to support the “other side” instead of mine, would I still consider it trustworthy?
  • Am I taking time to research counter-arguments to these ideas, even when I want them to be true?
  • Am I looking for good vs. evil narratives as a distraction from my immediate reality? Is getting worked up about hypothetical injustice easier than being present with what is?
  • Am I embracing this theory as a way to feel like I have control—by naming an enemy in a situation where I’m otherwise helpless?
  • Does seeing myself as a “good guy” on the side of “truth” or “justice” make me feel validated, empowered, and important?

It’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking we’re being Good Skeptics when we’ve really only lifted one veil of many. There’s nothing “woke” about rejecting the official story while gullibly swallowing its alternatives.

Rather, waking up means waking up to ourselves. It’s recognizing that the battle of good and evil we project onto the world is playing out daily within ourselves. It’s committing to seeing “what is,” instead of stories about “what is.” It’s spreading our skepticism evenly across the info-scape instead of saving it for the things we already distrust.

So here it is, you guys. This is me groveling at the collective feet of the internet, with one thing to say: to anyone—everyone—listening, we need to reflect on how we’re processing the claims we hear. If we’re going to question official narratives, we need to question alternative narratives with the same degree of rigor. There’s no use retiring our sheeplehood from the mainstream only to rejoin the herd on a different pasture.

Source: Denise Minger