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New signs of Covid-19 complacency even as the American death toll nears another dreaded milestone

Former Washington Post editor Leonard Downie Jr. discusses the media's coverage of President Trump in the lead up to the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.

Posted: Sep 21, 2020 12:21 PM
Updated: Sep 21, 2020 12:21 PM

A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

'A very good job'

This headline from March 30 is newly startling to see, nearly six months later:

"Trump concedes US coronavirus death toll could be 100,000 or more."

At that time, as the country belatedly locked down, the president said that "if we can hold that down, as we're saying, to 100,000 - that's a horrible number - maybe even less, but to 100,000; so we have between 100- and 200,000 - we all, together, have done a very good job."

Some of Trump's words were mangled, but the implication was that if the USA kept the death toll under 200,000, the country will have "done a very good job."

It seems unfathomable, 200,000 deaths later, that anyone still thinks "we all, together, have done a very good job." Yet the belief persists. So does Covid-19 denialism. More on that in a moment...

A tragedy times 200,000

Different news outlets track Covid deaths slightly differently. The Washington Post and NBC News, for example, have already reported that the 200,000 milestone has been reached. Many other national outlets, including CNN, cite the John Hopkins database, which currently lists 199,481 deaths in the US.

Every estimate is imperfect; an analysis piece by the AP's Julie Pace notes that "the real number is certainly higher."

But the estimates surely still matter. Every loss matters, even as numbness sets in. "Six months in, Americans are tuning away from news about the pandemic," WaPo's Sunday's front page story noted. "Google searches for virus information have plummeted by nearly 90 percent since March. Americans tell pollsters they hold little hope that the danger will recede anytime soon." Signs of complacency, in other words, in a crisis that needs the opposite.

NBC's story about the milestone contains an even more discouraging paragraph: "The country still faces many challenges in overcoming the pandemic, including agreeing on even the most basic facts. Americans are still fighting over whether to wear masks, whether the virus is serious and to what extent it's safe to reopen certain businesses and to resume certain activities." That brings me to Wyoming...

Spreading the truth to people who shout 'hoax'

Ann and Marvin Robinson of Casper, Wyoming are still recovering from Covid-19, months after catching the disease. Ann has become "a living testament in a doubting moment," the Casper Star-Tribune reporter Seth Klamann wrote earlier this month. "She's embraced that role: She spends a lot of her time on the computer, crunching the daily coronavirus numbers into a spreadsheet and posting it to Facebook. She pushes back on her friends, people she's known for years, when they call the virus a hoax. When one friend declared that she didn't know anyone who'd been sick, Ann replied, 'You know us.'"

You know us.

Imagine Ann's frustration when she sees posts on Facebook saying "Oh it's just a hoax, it's gonna go away on election day." That's her summary of what they say. She tries to spread the truth: "It's not a hoax, I can tell you first-hand." Read Klamann's full story here. As I said on Sunday's "Reliable Sources" telecast, Covid denialism takes many shapes, and it's both deadly and destabilizing. The people best equipped to debunk the B.S. are the survivors...

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 918230

Reported Deaths: 15011
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1252491952
Lake623371084
Allen52301746
Hamilton43009443
St. Joseph41155584
Elkhart32831485
Vanderburgh29698436
Tippecanoe26442247
Johnson23106414
Hendricks21708338
Porter21255340
Clark16988222
Madison16899378
Vigo15562272
Monroe14186190
LaPorte13961235
Delaware13613215
Howard13531258
Kosciusko11150134
Hancock10534159
Warrick10431174
Bartholomew10233166
Floyd10099202
Wayne9557216
Grant8858194
Morgan8654158
Boone8231109
Dubois7521123
Henry7391126
Dearborn734186
Noble7208100
Marshall7168127
Cass7060117
Lawrence6803150
Jackson638980
Shelby6386106
Gibson5999105
Harrison587984
Huntington586490
Montgomery5663101
DeKalb555691
Knox532999
Miami523183
Clinton522464
Putnam519067
Whitley509851
Steuben480267
Wabash470192
Jasper465760
Jefferson456091
Ripley439074
Adams435565
Daviess4008106
Scott389563
White383457
Decatur376895
Clay376455
Greene375589
Wells375183
Fayette363074
Posey351841
Jennings341756
Washington324046
LaGrange312074
Spencer310734
Fountain306553
Randolph302087
Sullivan294947
Owen275961
Orange269659
Starke268961
Fulton264451
Jay248134
Perry244950
Carroll239926
Franklin229337
Vermillion225850
Rush225530
Parke212020
Tipton205354
Pike200938
Blackford163834
Pulaski155250
Crawford140818
Benton138316
Newton138141
Brown130646
Martin124416
Switzerland122310
Warren112616
Union92211
Ohio75811
Unassigned0461

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1319265

Reported Deaths: 21265
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1480641537
Cuyahoga1311202313
Hamilton948871307
Montgomery647451122
Summit548531041
Lucas49502853
Butler45993649
Stark39954963
Lorain30438525
Warren29170326
Mahoning25988629
Clermont24726278
Lake24088411
Delaware21722140
Licking19822239
Fairfield19780218
Greene19671266
Medina19208285
Trumbull19195506
Clark17188321
Portage15585224
Richland15540228
Wood15187208
Allen13654254
Miami13283244
Muskingum11821148
Wayne11448234
Columbiana11100239
Tuscarawas10388264
Marion10273144
Pickaway10162128
Scioto9766124
Erie9479170
Ross8979172
Lawrence8225116
Hancock8105140
Ashtabula8083184
Geauga7976155
Belmont7791183
Jefferson7093168
Huron7087125
Union703549
Washington6823116
Athens666163
Sandusky6608132
Darke6394135
Knox6308120
Seneca6113135
Auglaize569888
Ashland5631110
Shelby555799
Mercer545188
Brown533067
Defiance5278100
Madison527368
Crawford5148113
Highland514876
Fulton508781
Clinton505379
Logan494582
Preble4788110
Putnam4733106
Guernsey439057
Williams437281
Champaign426463
Ottawa425783
Perry414051
Jackson402259
Pike367140
Morrow359149
Fayette353951
Coshocton345064
Hardin341868
Adams338864
Gallia329254
Holmes3148107
Henry312668
Van Wert299269
Hocking280467
Wyandot271858
Carroll250451
Paulding231742
Meigs197842
Monroe178649
Noble160340
Morgan153528
Harrison145740
Vinton130217
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
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Angola
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Huntington
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Decatur
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Van Wert
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An area of high pressure will pave the way to plenty of sunshine as we round out the work week.
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