Is the media politicizing the coronavirus? A professor of family medicine at Brown University thinks so.
Though more than 226,000 Americans have reportedly died with COVID-19, President Trump has defended his administration's response to the pandemic, especially considering that 2.2 million people were projected to die from the virus. The latter statement is one NBC News has deemed "misleading" according to its own fact-check.
"There's lots of reassuring information they could be sharing in lieu of this fearmongering," Dr. Andrew Bostom recently told the "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins" radio program.
Dr. Bostom noted the state of Florida as one example.
"It was fully opened on the end of September, including for seniors, and the hospitalization rate is down, deaths remain low, and only 2.1 percent of the emergency room visits are for COVID," he reported. "That compares with really a comparable statistic for the whole United States, which is at now about 2.5 percent of the hospital visits are for COVID."
As a result, Dr. Bostom said the virus is behaving very much like a seasonal influenza – a statement that was forbidden back in the spring.
"It's manageable," he continued. "Just like with influenza each year, there may be certain localities where cases go up very quickly, and there's a couple of ERs and hospitals that are briefly dealing with a tough situation, but the broad picture of the United States is one of reassurance. That is so critical with epidemics, pandemics -- that the country be reassured."
The Associated Press, however, sees things differently. Just this week, the news outlet focused on the fear and anxiety spiking in virus hot spots across the nation. One woman in the article is described as being in tears over her state's refusal to mandate face masks.
"The media has built this up to such that people feel like if you get diagnosed with the coronavirus, it's a death warrant," Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council (FRC), told his guest. "The numbers just don't back that up."
That is not to say the risk is low for elderly populations, but the family medicine professor asserts that "this enormous swath of the population that must be working, that must be out to keep commerce going, to keep hospitals running at the expense of this population that is truly vulnerable" cannot be penalized.
Dr. Bostom went on to voice his disappointment with how his home state of Rhode Island has been reporting information online, ignoring the more reassuring long-term trends "where we can see that we've really flattened out in terms of hospitalizations and deaths and even infections."
Instead of graphing that, the Google Docs site, for example, takes "any little uptick and sticks that on the front on the webpage."
"The long-term data looks very reassuring," Dr. Bostom reiterated.