By CHRIS POWELL
Every day Governor Lamont conscientiously reports the "positivity rate" of coronavirus tests administered in Connecticut, and news organizations report it as if the state's fate hangs on the data. Lately the "positivity rate," the percentage of tests positive for the virus, has been rising, setting off fears of Doomsday, though a rising "positivity rate" was only to be expected as people began to be allowed to come out from under their beds.
Actually, the "positivity rate" hardly matters at all, which should be obvious by now, since it long has been understood that many if not most people who test positive for the virus have no symptoms or only minor symptoms and require no special treatment.
What matters is only the seriousness of the epidemic. But the other data reported daily with the "positivity rate" - hospitalizations and deaths - isn't so meaningful either.
Hospitalizations have to be watched for stress to the medical system. But the deaths being reported are misleading. They are described as "covid-associated" and so cover anyone who died while infected, even people who were already at death's door from other ailments or old age, with the virus being largely incidental to their death.
Sixty percent of Connecticut's nearly 4.600 "covid-associated" deaths have been people over 80, many in unprepared nursing homes. Ninety-four percent were over 60. Only 6 percent, fewer than 300, were under 60. Of course this doesn't make the deaths any less sad, but it does make the virus far less dangerous than imagined.
The governor's daily reports would be more useful if they provided detail about each death and any underlying conditions. The reports also might be more useful if they included other virus-related data, like business closings, layoffs, crime, suicides, domestic violence, drug abuse, food pantry queues, missed classes, deaths of people scared out of going to a hospital for urgent treatment of other ailments, and the millions of dollars spent reimbursing losses caused by closing orders.
This would indicate the cost of what more medical experts consider the horribly mistaken strategy of combating the epidemic with lockdowns.
Many experts warned against lockdowns at the outset of the epidemic, but they were ignored or disparaged by government officials and news organizations. Now expert opinion is moving their way as the supposed cure proves worse than the disease.
Medicine is gaining on the virus and treatment now is far more effective than it was six months ago, when it was mainly a matter of shoving ventilators down the throats of seriously ill patients though this turned out to kill many more people than it saved.
Indeed, lockdown advocates who urge obeying the experts forget that the experts often have been wrong during the epidemic. Their predictions of millions of fatalities were wrong. Their clamor for more ventilators was wrong. They first denied the efficacy of mask wearing and now call it crucial.
Even now medical opinion is divided on the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine against the virus, but news organizations, driven mad by their hatred of President Trump, won't report this any more than they will report the corruption of the Biden family.
The country is just going to have to tough it out with the epidemic and should heed a great journalist of the last century, Elmer Davis, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's director of the Office of War Information. "The first great commandment," Davis wrote, "is: Don't let them scare you."
ANOTHER JOE McCARTHY
Campaigning to become President Joe Biden's secretary of state, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy last week called former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani a "Russian asset" for publicizing the incriminating material found on a laptop computer supposedly discarded by Biden's dissolute son, Hunter.
Giuliani has gotten a little nutty during his association with President Trump but no one has provided evidence that Giuliani is working for Russia. Murphy's accusation is just a smear reminiscent of those committed by the infamous senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, during the Red scare of the 1950s.
The Democratic "Russian collusion" attack on Trump went on for years but despite great expense came to nothing. Continuing that smear, Murphy may be the worst demagogue in Washington.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.