Opinion: Fox News Corona virus timeline “controversy”?

I just got back from driving to the store to get envelopes. I happened to have Fox News on the radio instead the “50’s” like I normally do. From what I heard, the big discussion of the day seems to be the controversy about the timeline for the release of a Covid-19 vaccine. I heard them say that the President was talking about a release sometime soon and the CDC Director taking about a release in the second or third quarter of 2021. Sounds like controversy worth spending hours talking about, or does it?

Words matter! Remember when we had a President who said “It depends on what the definition of “is” is.” In that case he was attempting to hide the fact he had been having an affair. This new controversy may be a little more important to get right. So what are they both saying?

The President says the task force has put in place a plan so 100 million doses of the vaccine will be available for delivery as soon as an approvable is given to distribute one. They think that could come as soon as the end of October or sometime in November. Those doses will be available for use by those most at risk. They are also saying that an additional 700 million doses will be available by the end of March 2021. Once given, that should cover the rest of our population, or at least those who have chosen to take it.

So what did the CDC Director say that is so different. He said the vaccine won’t be available for wide spread use by the public until the second or possibly the third quarter.

Since words matter, what is the difference between the two statements? The end of March is the end of the first quarter. The second quarter starts April 1st. So is Washington worried about a day or two or a few days. It seems so.

When I look at what the two are saying they aren’t far off. The President is letting the public know that a vaccine is coming out soon and the most vulnerable will be getting it first. He is also letting us know that a supply of vaccine large enough to cover everyone will be available by the second quarter of 2021. Being available is just the first step in getting the general public vaccinated, but it is the first and most critical step.

I see the CDC also correctly stating that the process of getting the vaccine distributed to those who will be giving it to the general public will take some time. He is also saying that all general public, who choose to be vaccinated, will have that opportunity by the second or third quarter.

I don’t see that those are contradictory statements. I certainly don’t understand how those in Washington think its worth spending any time on.

What I see is a process that seems to be working and that, if a vaccine passes all the necessary approval steps, will be available to the general public in record time.

If part of the controversy is about who gets the vaccine first, let’s look at the latest (2:03 PM 9/17/20) Ross County Health District statistics. There have been 834 confirmed and 3 suspected cases. Of those cases, 392 came from Healthcare Workers, Nursing Home Residents, Corrections Employees and Inmates. That accounts to close to half (47%) of all cases. Yet accounts for a small portion of the population living in Ross County.

So let’s be thankful that it looks like a vaccine may be available in record time. Let’s be glad that the first 100 million doses will go to those who are at greatest risk. That will make the rest of the population safer! And let’s be glad making the vaccine available to the entire population in record time, whether that’s in the second or third quarter, looks like it will occur. If that is accomplished it certainly will be a testimony to the creativity, ingenuity and hard work of those involved. And that even includes our President.

I, for one, am thankful and I won’t worry about whether the definition of “soon” is the second or third quarter of 2021! There really isn’t that much difference.

Opinion: “The Gazette’s Love Affair with Dick Polman?”

Try to get a column printed in the Chillicothe Gazette. You’ll find it’s not the easiest thing to accomplish. Sometimes you’ll have a column rejected because you use the wrong term. I had one rejected because I used the term “Wuhan virus” instead of the acceptable term “coronavirus”. It was published once I made the change. Also there are strict limits on length, unless it is a point that the Gazette wants to make. Then the limit isn’t applied.

So it can be hard to get your thoughts printed in the Chillicothe Gazette. That is unless your name is Dick Polman!

Dick Polman seems to have no problem getting his columns printed. He has had three printed in less than three weeks! So why the “love affair” with Dick Polman’s columns? Is it because Dick is “Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania”? Is it because Dick writes thoughtful, academic pieces making well thought out points? Or is there some other reason? So let’s look at key parts of those columns to see:

August 27: “Given how dangerous Donald Trump truly is, how cavalier he is about torching the Constitution and tallying American casualties, it’s probably a darn good thing he’s stone-cold stupid.”

September 12: “Here’s a pop quiz. Which of these rash acts is the stupidest? a) Frying your hand in cooking oil b) Breaking your thumb with a hammer c) Swimming laps in a polluted river d)Volunteering to be Donald Trump’s guinea pig”

September 16: “But while fully armed with foreknowledge about COVID-19, he (Donald Trump) has now shot and killed 190,000.”

While I’ve picked short segments of each column, they are representative of the tone and message of each. There seems to be one message in each: “Donald Trump is bad. How could you vote for him?”

So why does the Chillicothe Gazette have such a “love affair” with Dick and his columns. Is it because Dick is a Ross County resident wanting to share his thoughts? Is it because his columns are well thought out academic pieces? (That’s something you might expect from the “Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania”.) Are his columns funny? Will they help solve a societal problem? Are they columns that will make our political discourse more civil? Do his columns reflect the opinions of the majority of residents in the Gazette’s subscribers distribution area? (The Ross County presidential election results for 2016 were: Trump – 18,652 and Clinton – 10,356).

None of those seem to apply to Dick Polman’s columns. So why does the Chillicothe Gazette print so many of them? Could it be because each one of them “bad mouths” President Trump and attempts to get you to vote him out of office?

Is this what we expect from the local paper that we subscribe to and advertise in? You might want to let the Gazette and Dick Polman’s employer know your thoughts.

You can write to the editor of the Gazette at: Editor; Chillicothe Gazette; 50 W. Main Street; Chillicothe, OH 45601.

You can write to the president of the University of Pennsylvania at: Amy Gutmann; President; University of Pennsylvania; Collage Hall, Room 100; Philadelphia, PA 19104

Sept. 16, 2020: “Trump knew danger. End of Story.”

by Dick Polman of the University of Pennsylvania

Dick finished his column with the following:

“But while fully armed with foreknowledge about COVID-19, he has now shot and killed 190,000. Will that cost him votes? Are we so benumbed at this point that even the most flagrant smoking guns shoot only blanks?

Richard Nixon flew away in his helicopter for far less.”

The “he” that Dick is referring to in the first line is President Trump, so I’m wondering what I’ve missed. I haven’t seen any news story regarding a shooting the president has been involved in, let alone one in which he killed 190,000 people. I can’t imagine what kind of gun he must have used to accomplish that. If that’ happened, Dick is correct. That’s much worse than what President Nixon did that resulted his resignation from office.

But when I look back on Dick’s column what I see is a listing of what President Trump said, but no recitation of any of the things he did. I’ve always heard that “actions speak louder than words”. So why didn’t Dick list any of the things President Trump did? They must have been terrible too? Could it be because it might cause a reasonable person to come to a different conclusion than what he hopes those who read his column will come to?

I watch Fox News so I actually know that President Trump has taken actions regarding the virus. The way I know that is one of our favorite Fox News shows, The Five, was interrupted on a regular basis over at least a couple month period to show the President’s Covid-19 Virus Task Force updates. We were introduced to the members of the task force and what their areas of responsibility were. We heard daily updates on the spread of the virus AND on the actions taken to help deal with it. That included the activation of the Wartime Production Act that mobilized private businesses converting them to the production of PPE and equipment. It also covered the refitting of two hospital ships and a convention center so that New York and California would have greater hospital capacity to handle the expected increase in patients. The task force updates came daily. Having seen those updates I think it is fair to give President Trump some credit? But Dick doesn’t seem to want to?

In his column Dick attempts to assign responsibility for the loss of all 190,000 lives to President Trump. Is that fair? Shouldn’t the governors of five states who required nursing homes to accept individuals diagnosed with Covid-19 and then saw significant levels of death in those very same nursing homes be assigned some of the blame? And what about the Democrats and bureaucrats that criticized President Trump for suggesting that individuals might try Hydrozychloride treatment despite the fact that many doctors were having success with it. How many individuals died as a result of that? How many of those deaths are the result of the actions of the Chinese Communist Party and their handling of the virus. That’s where it started.

Finally, how many deaths might be attributed to Dick Polman if readers fail to get vaccinated for the Covid-19 virus once it becomes available because they read his column suggesting it would be foolish to do so?

It looks like the story hasn’t ended yet after all!

Aug. 29, 2020: “Trump incorrect on virus, energy”

by David Klepper, Josh Boak and Amanda Seitz of the Associated Press

This column has been sitting on my desk waiting for me to comment for some time. So it may seem outdated, but I still think some aspects of it are worth covering.

The column is an attempt to “Fact Check” President Trump’s speech during the last night of the Republican Party Convention. But who ‘fact checks” the “fact checking”. I’ll atempt to do some in this column.

Covid-19: This section of the fact checking includes the following:

“Trump: The United States has among the lowest case fatality rates of any major country anywhere in the world.”

“The Facts: Not true. Not if you consider Russia, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and India as to be major countries.”

“The U.S. sits right in the middle…”

“of the 20… followed by Bangladesh, the Philippines, Russia, Morocco, India, Argentina, South Africa and Chile.”

The journalists include several countries in their list that I suspect few people would cite as “major countries”. I doubt that Bangladesh, the Philippines, Morocco, Argentina, South Africa and Chile would show up on most peoples’ list of major countries. So if you exclude those six countries, all of which had lower mortality rates than the U.S., from the list of major countries then you find the United States near the bottom of the remaining fourteen countries. So it looks like the “journalists” had to work extra hard to find that statement “Not true.”

Black Lives Matter:

“Rudy Giuliani, …’Black Lives Matter and antifa sprang into action and, in a flash, they hijacked the peaceful protests into vicious, brutal riots.”

“The Facts: That’s a hollow claim. There’s no evidence that Black Lives Matter or antifa, or any political group for that matter, is infiltrating racial injustice protests with violence. In June, The Associated Press analyzed court records…”

The article was carried in the August 29th Gazette and refers to a speech that was given on the 27th. Yet the proof the “journalists” give to prove the statement a “hollow claim” was from a study done in June? I happen to watch Fox News most nights and almost every night since June have seen clips of the violence in Portland and other cities. Front and center are individuals who proclaim their allegiance to BLM. So again, how hard did the journalist work to attempt to prove this statement untrue? It looks like they worked pretty hard, but without success!

Military:

“Trump: “We have spent $2.5 trillion on completely rebuilding our military, which was very badly depleted when I took office…”

“The facts: That’s an exaggeration. His administration has accelerated a sharp buildup in defense spending and paused spending limits but a number of new Pentagon weapons programs… per date Trump.”

When the journalists state that the Trump administration “has accelerated a sharp buildup in defense spending and paused spending limits” haven’t they actually proved the case he was making was true? It seems so to me. In the quote he didn’t claim he started the programs, just that during his administration there has been more focus and spending on rebuilding the military than under the Obama Administration. And that is the exact same thing the journalists tell us.

Veterans:

“Trump: ‘We also passed VA accountability and VA Choice…”

“The Facts: False. He didn’t get Veterans Choice approved; President Obama did in 2014. Trump expanded it under a 2018 law… (that change) allows veterans to get health care outside the VA system at public expense under certain conditions.”

So what did President Obama’s VA Choice program do if it didn’t give veterans the choice to get government paid healthcare from non-VA providers? That is what Veterans Choice was supposed to be about, wasn’t it? That was something that got done while Trump was in office.

So why did the journalists work so hard to Fact Check his speech and use distorted reasoning in order to prove the claims “False, Misleading or and Exaggeration”?

Looks like ‘fact checking” the fact checkers is something that needs to be done more frequently, especially when the original fact checking is done by The Associated Press!

Sept. 14, 2020: “Unioto, Chillicothe earn titles”

by Tom Wilson of the Chillicothe Gazette

Why would anyone post a column about a cross country race. I understand Tom writing the article, and he did a great job, but what caused me to decide to comment on it?

Anyone familiar with me and my 215 pound body might think I played some high school sport like football, but that’s not the case. When I was in high school I had a 149 pound body and ran cross country and track (the half mile and mile). That’s probably why the article caught my eye.

So when I read the article and saw that the Unioto HS team had finished first in a nine team field I couldn’t help but look for more details. What were their times and how did they place. What I discovered may have been a historic first, never accomplished before in the history of the sport. If not quite that historic, it can amazingly close!

What was amazing was Unioto’s team score. It was 16. You have to understand the method for scoring a cross country race to understand what an accomplishment this was. A team score is determine by the place its first five runners finish. So first place counts as ‘1″ and second place counts as “2” and twenty-first counts as “21”. In a nine team event you would usually have at least 45 runners, five from each team. It wasn’t uncommon that a team would enter more than 5 runners in such a big event and I expect that was true in this case. So the event could easily have had fifty to seventy-five runners, yet Unioto’s score was 16!

So how do you get a score of 16? You have runners finish first, second, third, fourth and sixth. So a perfect score for a team would be 15 with a team having the first five finishers. Unioto’s team finished with just one more point than perfect in a nine team event? What an exceptional accomplishment.

While I commend all the runners who took place, Unioto’s accomplishment was so outstanding I thought it was worth taking the time to comment on.

Congratulations on a historic performance!

Sept. 12, 2020: “Who wants to inject Trump vaccine?”

by Dick Polman of the University of Pennsylvania

Six days after printing an article that stated Covid-19 was the most cited concern of Ohio voters polled, the Gazette chose to print what I consider to be one of the most dishonest and reckless columns I’ve ever seen. I just can’t figure out why! Did they think that Dick’s column was funny? Did they like the fact it scored points against President Trump? Did it match the rhetoric coming from Vice President Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, President Trump’s opponents in the upcoming elections. If not one of these reasons, why would they print it? Maybe they printed it as an example of the kind of column that should never be printed in a reputable news paper? Whatever the reason, someone at the Gazette thought it was worthy of printing and reading!

The column starts off with the following:

Here’s a pop quiz. Which of these rash acts is the stupidest?

a. Frying your had in cooking oil

b. Breaking your thumb with a hammer

c. Swimming laps in a polluted river

d. Volunteering to be Donald Trump’s guinea pig”

The column finishes with:

“If a vaccine suddenly appears before Election Day, the first person to inject it and demonstrate its safety should be Donald Trump. In a public ceremony. Let’s see if he’s willing to put his body on the line.”

Any reasonable person reading the column would come away with the belief that Dick Polman was attempting to convince people that it would be foolish to take a vaccine if one were made available any time soon. Because of his past comments and the words he chose in this one, Dick probably believes it would be foolish to take a Covid-19 vaccine as long as President Trump is in office. But if he were to lose in November then it would suddenly be okay? Or do we have to wait until Biden and Harris actually take office?

The column isn’t only reckless, it is extremely dishonest! Not all the vaccine research is being done in the United States. And even the research that is being done in the US is being done under the watchful eye of the FDA and other regulatory agencies. And possibly most important in ensuring that any vaccine released for public use is the fact it turns out not to be safe it would destroy the reputation of the company that produced it. Companies are usually cautious about destroying their reputation in a capitalistic economy. The only place they aren’t concerned is in socialist economies where they are protected by government.

But what might be worse is the fact that Dick knows his proposal isn’t even possible when he proposes:

“…the first person to inject it and demonstrate its safety should be Donald Trump.”

Donald Trump can’t be the first person. That’s not because he is President, though that might be a good reason for not being first. By the time it is released for public use it will already have completed Phase I, Phase II and Phase III trials. And what are Phase III trials. They are trials where humans have volunteered to be injected to test the safety of the vaccine. So already hundreds, if not thousands of individuals have felt comfortable that the vaccine has proved to be safe after Phase I and Phase II trials, that they are willing to volunteer to be part of Phase III trials.

But if that’s the case, why is Dick attempting to convince readers of his column they would be fools to be vaccinated? Considering how serious the Covid-19 virus is and dishonest and reckless Dick’s column is, why did the Gazette chose to print it?

That’s a question I’ve asked of the Gazette’s editor and the president of Gannett News. I’ve also written to others who I think would be concerned like Gov. Mike DeWine. If you have a concern, please express it too!

Write to:

Editor, Chillicothe Gazette, 50 West Main Street, Chillicothe, Ohio 45601

Maribel Perez Wadsworth, President, Gannett News, 7590 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, Virginia, 22107-0150

And after this column, I hope we never see a column by Dick Polman in the Gazette again. That would show some good judgement on their part. Maybe all Gannett papers should do the same!

Sept. 6, 2020: “Covid-19, economy top issues for many Ohioans”

by Renee Fox Warren Tribune

In a recent “Your Voice Ohio” inspired article Renee covers the results of a July poll of a Ohio voters coordinated with the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics of Akron University. While the article talks about many of the issues that were cited, no supporting data was given or description of how this particular portion of the overall polling of the voters was conducted. Were voters given a list to choose from or were they asked to list the concerns on their own and then the responses counted to determine their frequency. That might not sound like it is important, but it helps one understand why some concerns that often make the list are missing. But another factor may better explain that.

“…there is a great deal of agreement on the issues most important to improving life – COVID-19, the economy, healthcare, racial equality, income inequality.” “At the lower end of spectrum, the respondents named mental health, international peace and security, environmental protections, infrastructure, public services, drug addiction and immigration reform.”

The article gives us a clue that the polling was done by supplying a list for those polled to rank:

“But differences in demography – gender, age, education, religion and more – play a role in how those issued are prioritized.”

The article continues by stating that voters want to hear more about the issues from the presidential candidates. It also stated that the papers plan on covering the issues in the coming weeks.

While nicely written and interesting, my concern is whether this process is self fulfilling. The Gazette has been full of articles on the Covid-19, the economy, climate change and healthcare so it is easy to understand how those would be on peoples mind. But the paper has had few articles on the unrest in Portland despite the fact it has lasted over 100 days, or that occurring in other cities. I believe I’m correct in saying there have been no articles on the Social Security Trust Fund Report that was issued April 22 or the recently issued Congressional Budget Office report which projects our level of Gross Debt to Gross Domestic Product will far exceed what it reached at the end of WWII. Both of those topics will have a greater impact on the nation as a whole if nothing is done about them than even the Covid-19 virus. Yet we see articles on Covid-19 on a regular basis, but none on the other two.

Were Social Security and National Debt on the list given to those polled?

Are we in an echo chamber where the Gannett Papers are concentrating their efforts to covering the Covid-19 virus, thus making it voters number one issue causing the news papers to carry more articles on Covid-19? It sure seems like we are.

But how do we get out of the echo chamber?

Sept 11, 2020: “Plant bulbs soon for early spring color”

by Steve Boehme of the Chillicothe Gazette

In this article, Steve encourages readers to plant Narcissus bulbs, more commonly known as daffodils. He states that late summer and early fall is the best time to plant the bulbs to have a nice show of color in early spring. He also states that daffodils are a good choice because they “rapidly multiply into large clumps” and because “they aren’t attractive to rodents or deer” so they “can be ‘naturalized’ in wooded areas”.

My wife and I certainly agree with that advice. After moving into our newly finished house in August 1994, we began planting spring bulbs. The first few years we planted about 6,000. While there were some tulips and others kinds of bulbs, many were different varieties of daffodils. And just as Steve reports, the daffodils have been the most successful. Having planted early, mid and late varieties, now each spring we get between 30,000 and 40,000 blooms over a five to six week period. They also make great arrangements for the house.

But that’s only half of the story. When you get large clumps it is best to dig them up and “split” them. When you do you get a great return on your original effort. Where you might have originally planted five or six bulbs you might now be digging up 50 to 75. So after you replant five or six bulbs you’ll have as many as 45 to 70 bulbs to plant somewhere else. And it won’t materially impact your spring display!

I began splitting our daffodil bulbs as far back as 2010. I’ve been replanting them in new areas of our property, especially in the words. Over the years we’ve also been sharing bulbs with friends and family. In 2013 I started planting bulbs on the grounds of Adena Mansion. I did that for four years and over that period of time planted approximately 2,000 bulbs. Now there is a nice show of daffodils at the museum and in some of the woods around it.

I estimate this year we’ve dug up at least 1,000 bulbs. But even with that number taken out of our yard we’ll have another great display next summer. We’ll be giving some of the bulbs away and planting others at the graves of some of my wife’s relatives. We’ll also be planting many of the others at the Millennial Grove. And next summer or the summer after I’ll most likely be splitting some more. It becomes a never ending source of new spring color!

So if you like spring flowers that give you years of pleasure, I strongly recommend you take Steve’s advice and plant some daffodil bulbs this fall.

Opinion: “Are we overacting to the Covid-19 virus ‘crisis’?”

The Chillicothe Gazette has had a large number of articles and opinion pieces related to the Covid-19 virus outbreak we’ve been experiencing this year. They’ve included articles telling us the number of the cases, the actions taken to stop its spread and the impact those actions have had on the economy. This week alone we’ve seen a Fact Check article related to Ohioans’ risk of dying from the virus and an article on nursing home Covid-19 deaths. I’m sure we’ll see more articles coming in the coming weeks.

With all that coverage, coupled with the fact that the original estimate of 2.5 million possible deaths from Covid-19, is it any wonder that a recent poll of Ohio voters found that Covid-19 was their number one concern? I don’t think so.

But what is the risk of death from Covid-19 for most Ohioans? The article on nursing home deaths stated that 64% of Ohio’s Covid-19 (4,354) deaths were related to nursing homes. That means nursing homes have accounted for approximately 2,786 of the total Covid-19 related deaths in Ohio. That leaves 1,568 deaths from non-nursing homes environments equating to approximately to 1% of Ohio’s normal annual death count. So, as the facts on the actual risk Ohioans face from Covid-19 come out, it think it is only natural for individuals to second guess whether our state’s government properly reacted.

Just as an example, an Ohio statewide shutdown was mandated prior to Ross County having its first Covid-19 case! That was also the case for many other rural counties in Ohio. Was that shutdown actually justified?

Chillicothe has seen shops and restaurants go out of business since the shutdown began. Yet the non-nursing home, prison and healthcare related cases in Ross County is less than 600 and total deaths are only 17.

So is it possible that the shutdown we’ve experienced might have been an over reaction?

(At the same time there are some other issues that have gone unreported that we should be reacting to! I’ll cover a couple of them in future “Opinion” pieces.)

Sept. 11, 2020: “Ohio’s nursing home deaths are clustered”

by Deon J. Hampton of the Cincinnati Enquirer

Today’s Chillicothe Gazette included an article on Ohio’s Covid-19 nursing home deaths. The main point of the article is the fact that while nursing home deaths were seen in “at least 250 nursing homes” “the deaths were concentrated in a quarter of those facilities…”.

That really wasn’t all that surprising, but something else in the article was. It was the statement that: “Nursing homes accounted for 64% of all of Ohio’s coronavirus deaths.” I thought that was so surprising since only 11% of Ross County cases were related to nursing homes.

I went to the Ohio Department of Health’s website to see how many Covid-19 deaths the state has seen. (Unlike Ross County Health Department’s website site, I had to work hard to find the Covi-19 data.) It showed 4,064 deaths and another 290 expanded count deaths for a total of 4,354 total Covid-19 deaths. 64% of that number is 2,786 leaving only 1,568 deaths not related to nursing homes. Prisons have also been a source of a substantial number of coronavirus cases and possibly deaths Healthcare workers also represent a large concentration of cases. So it is reasonable to assume that the percentage of deaths not related to nursing homes, prisons and the healthcare profession is much less than 36%.

So, while not the purpose of the article, what the article indirectly pointed out is how few deaths have occurred outside the nursing home environment.

A search on the internet resulted in a source that estimated Ohio’s 2019 population at 11.69 million people. If Ohio’s overall death rate is 1% that would be 116,900 deaths a year. If it is 1.5% it would be approximately 175,000. So Covid-19 deaths so far only equals 1% of Ohio’s normal annual deaths.