As Joel Silbey used to say, “its motto is not ‘the paper of record,’ it’s ‘all the news that’s fit to print,’ which implies something rather more subjective.”

The New York Times ran an article by Patricia Mazzei, Benjamin Mueller, and Robert Gebeloff on Florida’s response to COVID-19 arguing that “Florida shows that even a state that made a major push for vaccinations … can be crushed by the Delta variant.”

I put an ellipsis in that quotation to make it clearer. In the ellipsis goes an inexplicable qualifier: “—Florida ranks 21st among states and Washington, D.C., in giving people of all ages at least one shot—”

Twenty-first out of fifty-one is not high.

And “at least one shot” isn’t much in terms of immunity agains the Delta variant.

The article contains these two immediately adjacent statements:

Hospitals have said upward of 90 percent of their patients have been unvaccinated. Exactly why the state has been so hard-hit remains an elusive question.

It does not seem all that elusive, given the immediately prior statement.

It is elusive as to why one should have written such an article this way. In the Florida press, one can find ample evidence that the state has not made a “major push” for vaccination. Just two days ago, the Orlando Sentinel carried this story, which begins,

Gov. Ron DeSantis has crisscrossed the state…promoting a treatment for people who already have COVID-19. But the last time he held an event specifically to encourage getting vaccinated was four months ago. Instead, he’s downplayed the vaccines…

That is, DeSantis has been promoting Regeneron monocolonal antibodies aggressively; not vaccines.

DeSantis has opposed mask mandates in schools, threatening to withhold funding and pursuing defiant local officials in court.

DeSantis also barred vaccine requirements by executive order, and was backed by the legislature, although that ban too has wound up in court.

As the New York Times article says,

Florida’s pandemic data, more scant since the state ended its declared Covid-19 state of emergency in June, reveals only limited information about who is dying.

Here too, DeSantis’s decisions have been consequential, although the NYT’s article does not mention it. As the South Florida Sun-Sentinel points out,

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration engaged in a pattern of spin and concealment that misled the public on the gravest health threat the state has ever faced.

That is, DeSantis’s administration has made that data scant and uninformative.

It is not difficult to understand why such a state should be suffering a catastrophic new wave of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths that have reached tragic and record highs.

Florida on Thursday reported 21,765 more COVID-19 cases and 901 deaths to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Miami Herald calculations of CDC data.

All but two of the newly reported deaths occurred after July 25, with about 78% of those people dying in the past two weeks, according to Herald calculations of data published by the CDC. The majority of deaths happened during Florida’s latest surge in COVID-19 cases, fueled by the delta variant.

It is the largest single-day increase to the death total in the state’s COVID pandemic history.

It is strange that the New York Times would depict the story as inexplicable.

Author: Eric Rauchway

Created: 2021-08-29 Sun 14:30