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Thursday, March 26, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

For millions trapped at home by state-ordered lockdowns, coping with coronavirus means endless hours of TV and video games, and, as we said, no baseball. Just beyond the windowsill, though, spring beckons with its seasonal explosion of fresh color. A morning meditation on the back porch with a song-bird serenade isn’t going to provoke the ire of some finger-wagging governor. Where citizens are still allowed to roam freely — keeping a respectful six feet of distance from others — a hike through the park makes it easy to forget coronavirus cares. That’s because even while death is visited upon human civilization, the world of nature is coming alive.

For the angry, pillow-punching sort deaf to the call of the wild, managing the crisis may come in the form of blow-by-blow media coverage of the political donnybrook the virus has provoked. MSNBC TV host Rachel Maddow has called for a media blackout of President Trump’s daily coronavirus news briefings. “The daily briefing is a litany of things from the president that would be awesome if they were true, if they were happening. But they’re not,” says Ms. Maddow. “If Trump is going to keep lying like he has been every day on stuff this important, we should, all of us, stop broadcasting it. Honestly, it’s going to cost lives.”


CNN’s Jake Tapper and The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan likewise have questioned the president’s right to access the airwaves from the White House Press Room. The grumpy left enjoys using its mic to excoriate the president. Unsurprising as it is instinctual, it’s like a woodpecker wearing out its favorite tree.

To be sure, there is an audience that shares the media-blown bubble. It consists of viewers who find comfort in programming that reinforces their opinion that the pathogen which originated in China should be called “the Trump virus,” just because it tickles an inner fancy. After all, it’s a free country, except for the lockdown. Less welcome would be poll results, including a recent one from Gallup that found 60 percent of Americans approve of the president’s handling of the virus crisis.

In these hard times, not everyone is a prisoner of demoralizing preconceptions. Within the flow of statistical summaries of the coronavirus’ global impact are glimmers of hope. Michael Levitt, a Nobel Prize-winning biophysicist, finds reasons for optimism in the flattening of the virus case curve in China. Analyzing daily reports as the virus spread in January, he calculated that China would experience 80,000 cases and 3,250 deaths.

As of March 16, his crystal ball proved correct: The actual numbers were 80,298 cases and 3,245 deaths. If we are to believe the numbers coming out of China that’s cause for encouragement. If the vigilant practice of “social distancing” leads to similar signs of recovery, other nations, including the United States, will know that the virus is on the wane.


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